It’s not often that a restaurant puts family first, but it’s putting family first that makes Deano’s food so good. Deano’s Italian is a family-owned restaurant in Dublin, Georgia that puts love and care into every single dish—they’re known for award-winning recipes, a welcoming atmosphere, and a loving family. To help spread the good that comes from family-owned restaurants, they are expanding to a new location in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Deano’s origin story does not begin with the opening of the restaurant. Robert Shaffer began working in the restaurant industry in his 20s, beginning as a dishwasher and working up to become a line worker. As he learned new skills, he fell in love with the industry. Jennifer Shaffer, on the other hand, has wanted to be in the restaurant industry since she was eight years old—simply because of her love of food. She began working in catering at fourteen and then went to culinary school. “I grew up in an Italian household, so everything revolved around food,” she said. “Everything started with food. It’s my culture of showing how I love you.”
Deano’s is a family affair. They know there’s something special about a restaurant that’s family-owned. “The main thing is having the family presence. Family makes the restaurant also feel like a family,” said the Shaffer’s daughter.
“There’s a certain sense of responsibility with family-owned restaurants. Everything that happens in the restaurant is a reflection of the family. It’s not a broad stroke person you never see,” said Jennifer. “You’ll see someone with our last name in the restaurant.” The principal difference is accountability and love. Being family-owned, customers are able to put a face to the restaurant. While some may see this as daunting, the Shaffer’s see it as a positive.
What makes Deano’s special is the level of commitment. “It’s not just a job. We go home, and the restaurant goes home with us,” siad Jennifer. “There’s a sense of pride with that.”
The Deano’s expansion seemed as if it were always meant to be. The Hilton Head location gives them an opportunity to grow and to spread their message of supporting family-owned businesses. “We have vacationed in Hilton Head for years and years, but I like to say that Hilton Head came to us. During the hurricane that shut down Hilton Head, the owners that own the building that we’re leasing came and ate at our restaurant several times,” said Jennifer.
“It’s now an extension of family,” said the Shaffer’s daughter.
With the expansion, there’s a level of excitement that comes with it. “It’s just something we love to do. Deano’s has always been our rock. It’s exciting to see all of this unfold,” said Jennfer.
Jennifer and Robert Shaffer have opened eight other restaurants together, but there was only one restaurant that really stuck: Deano’s. Not only has it become a part of the owners lives, but it’s also become a part of the customers’. Instead of simply being served, customers are meant to feel accepted and appreciated. “It’s just an extension of your own dining room,” said Jennifer. “When you walk in, it has that feeling of ‘You’re welcome’. When you walk in, you become a part of the fabric of Deano’s. It’s an experience instead of just going out.”
Deano’s is more than a restaurant you eat at. It’s a family—and by coming to either location, you can be a part of the family too.