Dimitri’s Pizza changes owners from one family to another

  • After only a few weeks of negotiations, Steve and Dan Lux came to an agreement to purchase Dimitri's Pizza from the Tsihlis family. From left to right: Yianni Tsihlis, Theohare Kapellakis, Dimitri Tsihlis, Steve Lux, Dan Lux. Josh Morrill—Josh Morrill/Monitor Staff

  • After only a few weeks of negotiations, Steve and Dan Lux came to an agreement to purchase Dimitri's Pizza from the Tsihlis family. From left to right: Yianni Tsihlis, Theohare Kapellakis, Dimitri Tsihlis, Steve Lux, Dan Lux. Josh Morrill—Josh Morrill/Monitor Staff

  • Dan Lux prepares a pizza as he continues to learn the classic Dimitri’s menu. He says it has been a bit of transition from his past job in the industrial field, but that he is looking forward to maintaining the reputation built by Dimitri’s Pizza. Josh Morrill / Monitor staff

  • Dimitri Tsihlis (back) continues to ingratiate Steve Lux (front) into the technological intricacies of the restaurant's ordering system. Josh Morrill—Josh Morrill/Monitor Staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/31/2022 1:31:03 PM

For the Tsihlis family, running Dimitri’s Pizza has been more than a job – it’s been their life.

But as his children grew older, Dimitri Tsihlis began to realize there was another part of his life he was missing more than he should.

Tsihlis first thought about selling his family business when he received a picture of his son playing soccer while he was working last summer, a moment he remembers like it was yesterday.

“That killed me,” he said. “I’m at a point in life where my children are older. I want to do some more everyday things with them. This is a very big time commitment and you always take this work with you and I’m always managing. It is a 24-7 job.”

After 10 years of making pizzas, grinders, gyros and pasta dinners, brothers Dimitri and Yianni and sister Theohare, began to consider selling the business.

As the Tsihlis’ willingness to sell spread, mostly by word of mouth, brothers Steve and Dan Lux jumped at the opportunity.

“Being part of the town is very important to us and our family, and to have an opportunity like this come out ... it was pretty much hard to pass on. It’s another stitch in the fabric.” Dan Lux said.

From one Contoocook family to another, they were able to strike a deal just weeks after connecting in early January.

“It was almost kind of awkward when I called Dimitri,” Lux said. “It was an odd question to ask, like, ‘what do you think about selling? What’s your plan?’ You know, just kind of went from there, got some of the basics and then convinced my brother.”

Both Dan and Steve Lux have been Contoocook lifers who have been ordering pizza and subs from Dimitri’s for as long as they can remember. Neither have prior experience in the restaurant industry, as Steve formerly worked in marketing for Southern New Hampshire University, and Dan worked in the industrial field for many years, but they are confident that their passion for this new endeavor and for their community will help them succeed.

The Tsihlis family had very few stipulations for the new owners, as they want them to have the freedom to enhance the restaurant in any way they see fit. The Lux brothers said they will keep the Dimitri’s Pizza name for a while, but a name change could be in the cards at a future date. They hope to keep the same menu and staff for the foreseeable future.

“We’re looking at very seriously expanding outdoor seating,” Lux said. “Possibly doing some events throughout the summer. Maybe live bands and things like that to bring more people in.”

The Tsihlis saw similarities between the families, with Dimitri and Steve both having more of a management-based, big picture mindset, and Dan and Yianni being more hands-on with the technology and food, making the eventual transition seamless. Dimitri also acknowledged that Steve’s marketing background could give an economic boost to the business.

Tsihlis and his siblings were born in the 1970s in Haverhill, Mass., and raised with hospitality, culinary arts and religion at the forefront, a set of values core to their Greek roots. After Tsihlis’ parents, Manes and Catherine, moved their family back to Greece in 1985, they decided to briefly return to the states for a vacation in 1989, but Tsihlis joked that there ended up being no return flight. Opportunities in America, and other family members residing in New Hampshire, led to the decision to stay.

Later that year, Manes and Catherine purchased the building that eventually became Dimitri’s Pizza in Contoocook.

Tshilis’ uncles helped run the business for many years with his parents before taking over the Dimitri’s Pizza restaurant in Weare. These restaurants were the pride and joy of their family, and it’s where Dimitri, Yianni and Theohare grew and matured. They’ve tried to show their gratitude for the greater Hopkinton community in their food and through their acts.

For the last eight years, the Tsihlis family has helped prepare and serve Thanksgiving meals to local families. Yianni has been in charge of baking turkeys, while other businesses and farms have done donated food and volunteered to help assemble 170 meals per year. The Lux brothers have pledged to continue this tradition, and they’re dedicated to expanding the philanthropic efforts of the business.

Both Lux brothers have received positive feedback as news of the sale spread through the community.

“Most people know us,” Steve said. “This isn’t like we’re somebody coming in and trying to run something as part of the community because obviously, this restaurant is more than that. It is community. So having people from here to own this, I think it’s a big thing.”

The Tsihlis siblings are excited for the next chapter in their lives, as Dimitri has a job lined up with Granite Financial Partners in Milford, and Yianni and Theohare will be involved with the restaurant in smaller roles while they search for other opportunities. What they will miss the most is the people they’ve met over the years. They said that there is no substitute for the everyday banter and conversations they would have at the restaurant.

Dimitri said the decision to sell his family’s longtime business has weighed on him. However, he acknowledged that the family he is building with his wife is his top priority right now.

“I grew up in here folding boxes,” Dimitri said. “I felt the responsibility to continue (the business), but it’s time to be with my kids more every day.”

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