Demetri & Sarah
Photography by Ali Francis
Sarah Schneider and Demetri Makoulis met casually on the streets of the Lower East Side. The two are now married and are owners of Sarah's long held dream, Egg Shop.
DEMETRI: You always tell it best, so.
SARAH: I do? Ok. The first nice summer day, we were sitting outside on the Lower East Side at a place called El Sombrero, that had been there forever, they serve margaritas to go. I was there with a girlfriend and all of a sudden these three boys rolled up on little BMX bikes and I was like who is that?
DEMETRI: I was in costume for the day. I was a BMX biker.
SARAH: I thought you were a BMX biker.
DEMETRI: Right. I was wearing Dickies with the crease down the middle, a wife beater. We pull up and Sarah was like…
SARAH: I thought he was super cute. His friend came up to my girlfriend and was going in hard, but she had a boyfriend and she was over it. Super long story short, we ended up becoming really good friends with Demetri's friend Dan who had approached us. We hung out all summer with Dan. And at the end of the summer we were at a bar, we walked in and I hear this guy like ‘Sarah Schneider.’
DEMETRI: You were thinking, he's not as good looking as I remember.
SARAH: Just not as skater as I remember. We ended up having a super fun night. Cut to 3am making out.
DEMETRI: You had to go to Vegas the next day.
SARAH: I had to go to Vegas the next day for Magic, cause I worked in fashion then. I didn’t sleep, we ended up having a night and had the best time. But I remember him leaving, he didn’t ask for my number. I thought there was no way we’d see each other again.
DEMETRI: I knew we’d see each other for sure. The next week, we went to Dan’s Hamptons house for the weekend. A couple of dudes, Sarah, and that was it. Sarah and I made out for the whole weekend.
SARAH: It’ll be 10 years in September. It was crazy, that Hamptons weekend, I thought, I don’t know this guy very well but whatever we’ll have fun. We didn’t leave each other’s side the entire weekend. Then we were driving home and I was freaking out. I didn't think that he would call me. I did all the things you’re not supposed to do. We got back and I think we saw each other immediately. Game on, that’s it.
DEMETRI: One time I was going for a business meeting and I was wearing a sport coat. I didn’t know this at the time, but a couple months later Sarah was like ‘I was really thinking about bailing on you in the middle of the date because you really didn’t look good.’
SARAH: We kind of had this amazing New York love affair. We were obsessed. We spent all our time together. But, Demetri lived at home, in Brooklyn, at the time.
DEMETRI: That didn’t deter Sarah which is also unbelievable.
SARAH: I wanted it to, but it was hilarious. Laughter, it cures everything right? I was like, this dude does not check all the boxes that I thought I needed to have checked, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
DEMETRI: For the record, it was a choice to live at home. I was working on my own film stuff. It was either getting my own apartment and a job job or keep doing what I was doing. I was pretty confident. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s out of my hands.
I was like, this dude does not check all the boxes that I thought I needed to have checked, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
DEMETRI: My family loved Sarah right off the bat. I mean, c’mon, her smile brightens up the room. They were very quickly taken with her.
SARAH: I was super nervous because they have strong Greek accents. I had to really listen and pay attention. I felt like that silly American girl coming in.
DEMETRI: My parents came over from Greece when they were getting their master's degrees from NYU and Polytech so that was in ‘73. The idea was to have me and go back, but once they’d been here for a couple years, they were like, well New York is the spot. They’ve been in Brooklyn ever since.
SARAH: I was born in Phoenix, but I’m a West Coast girl. We moved to San Diego when I was 12, specifically Coronado, a little island on the other side of the bay.
Her smile brightens up the room
It happened fast
SARAH: We were hanging out consistently, non-stop. Clearly into each other, no games. But we didn’t have ‘the chat.’ I went home and I made out with someone. I told Demetri when I got back. He was like ‘Ok, great. That probably shouldn’t happen again.’
DEMETRI: Yeah, it was like ok that’s going to stop. Now we’re exclusive, you know.
SARAH: But it was special. I really have to say our relationship was really intense and it was really fast. It freaked me out. I was so vulnerable and it was so intimate.
DEMETRI: Mind you, I’m known for writing novels as texts, so I was writing Sarah novels while she was out there. I'm not shy with words. I’m a sensitive soul.
SARAH: He’s totally a trip. I’m not as sensitive or not as gushy.
DEMETRI: I’m sensitive and wordy, but I’m not creative with it.
SARAH: It’s heartfelt, thoughtful, emotional. It’s special.
SARAH: It was my birthday like three years ago and Demetri was like ‘I’m working on something.’ He had bought this beautiful red, bound book and he had printed all the emails from when we had first met in 2005/2006. He wrote next to each email what he was feeling at the time.
DEMETRI: I had gone through thousands of emails, which is such a fun task for me because I was reliving it, personally, alone. I selected the ones that were funny, beautiful or stupid arguments. I printed them out, cut them out, pasted them into the book, and just relaying what was going through my head during those moments and where our relationship was at the time. Things that we’d never remember in a million years.
SARAH: We have now started putting special personal moments and Egg Shop stuff in the book.
DEMETRI: Like our original architecture plans. Whatever…our liquor license sign-up sheet, when we canvassed for neighborhood signatures. There was a fire next to our building and we were like should be take our stuff? I only grabbed a sweater and the book.
He had bought this beautiful red, bound book and he had printed all the emails from when we had first met in 2005/2006. He wrote next to each email what he was feeling at the time.
SARAH: We didn't get engaged until 9 years later. We only got married two months ago. We didn’t feel the need to get married. I didn’t care about it. It didn’t define us. The love was there, the trust was there. I wasn’t sure that I really needed to get married. And honestly when we started working on Egg Shop it was a big shift in our life. I has been super secure in my fashion job and Demetri was in film, Egg Shop was a dream. Something I had been talking about for five years. Everyone was like ‘no one is going to go to your weird egg shop.’ I was like just trust me, this is a thing.
We didn’t feel the need to get married.
SARAH: I didn’t come from hospitality, Demetri didn’t come from hospitality. I did’t know how we could ever do this. A really dear friend of ours does comes from hospitality, and he was like “Sarah you cannot talk about this anymore, write a business plan.” So we laid out the restaurant in detail.
DEMETRI: For me, I loved the idea of Egg Shop. There was an opening in the marketplace for it. I’ve had some experience raising money for film ventures, I’ve worked with business plans, and I have done this before for things as risky if not far more risky.
SARAH: We wanted to understand the financials.
DEMETRI: It got to the point where Egg Shop was viable. We had a couple of investors that made us feel like it was not an insurmountable challenge.
SARAH: The catalyst was that we had a business plan, we understood what we needed to do. But the big question was we need a chef…where is our food coming from? So, I was still working in fashion. I was walking home from work one day and I ran into a friend who was managing Café Gitane. And, again, I was blah blah blahing this idea to anyone who would listen. Clearly I wanted this. I was putting Egg Shop into the universe. And this friend that I ran into, said, I have the perfect person for you. He’s the executive chef at this very hip restaurant in Tribeca. I thought, “oh my god, no. I’m embarrassed, no way, what am I going to tell him about, my egg sandwich idea?” I was freaking out.
DEMETRI: I was like just ‘go.’ What’s the worst thing that happens?
SARAH: I went, I met him. I asked him, why can’t I get an egg sandwich that is organic and healthy or super indulgent? Why doesn’t that exist? He was super poker faced, taking it in. I was passionate about it. He was intense and listening. He was like ok cool, let me think about it. A week later, he called and was like I want to get brunch, I want you to meet my wife. We had brunch at Marlowe and Sons and he was like this is fucking genius, what are we doing and when are we doing this? Let’s do this. It's about finding someone who understands the vision.
DEMETRI: We needed the person who could deliver the food that we had hoped we could possibly deliver. I don’t know how other couples operate or work together, but we have ten years together that gives us our own kind of language. We understand each other. Things that I’m worrying about, she is barely sweating. And there are other things that Sarah may be tripping about that I think are non–issues for me. I know what I’m weak at and I defer to Sarah on so many levels.
SARAH: I couldn’t have done this without Demetri. I don’t think I would have pulled the trigger. We are really different people and we work together really closely. We don’t work together in the shop every day and, if I’m being honest, I think that would be really challenging. We each have really strong personalities and need our space. I look at other couples who everyday work together and I don’t know if I could do that every single day. It’s nice to come home and have that separate space. Even from day one, we were never the couple that was insecure or NEEDED to be out together at all times.
DEMETRI: We don’t need to show up to places as one unit all of the time.
SARAH: Early on, he would use the word teammate and it drove me nuts. But now, it’s fitting. You’re on my side. I have your back.
DEMETRI: If there is another sexier term for it, let’s figure it out.
I don’t know how other couples operate or work together, but we have ten years together that gives us our own kind of language. We understand each other.
DEMETRI: I joke sometimes that we opened a restaurant so I could propose in it and if it worked, job done, and, if not, we shut it down and it was like the most expensive proposal ever. I had the ring for about 2 months or so. We found the space for Egg Shop signed the lease in early June. Sarah quit her job. We were looking at an early/mid August open date. There was a lot happening. I was working everyday at my film job, in the meantime, and meeting the team at the shop afterwards to tear things down and get it ready for our Opening Day. We had zero time together at all. Zero. So I couldn’t find an appropriate time to actually propose. We had our "friends and family Friday" and I kept feeling like wow, there is something special here. Everybody had left and it’s the two of us and it is probably one in the morning and we were tired, but looking at each other like did we just do this? This thing is ours. Sarah was distracted, talking about something else.
SARAH: I was going on about something.
DEMETRI: And I was like just stop. Then I pulled the thing out of my back pocket.
SARAH: He started saying these beautiful things.
DEMETRI: It was all surreal. I was like I just want this place to represent all the good that you and I have put in place in the course of 8 years. Every time we walk into this place, it should remind us that it was built with our love in so many respects. And Sarah was like what is going on right now?
SARAH: He didn’t get down on one knee or anything. We were hugging so we was kind of whispering these things into my ears, and then he kind of sat back and pulled out the ring. Then we started crying and cracked open a beer. We sat on this bench and we were fucking starving and like let’s go get a slice of pizza.
DEMETRI: And then we opened two days later.
SARAH: It was a whirlwind.
SARAH: The wedding part of it was magical. I knew that it was going to be this amazing party. It was in Tulum. We had 90 people.
DEMETRI: It was great it was like a huge party for three days.
SARAH: You don’t feel that pressure of ‘I have one night.’
Then we started crying and cracked open a beer.
All of the things
SARAH: We couldn’t actually believe it. We are so totally humbled by Egg Shop’s reception and our customers’ consistently kind words. It’s led to new opportunities and now there is so much else happening that we’re excited to announce soon.
DEMETRI: One of the things that is super satisfying about this is the immediate reaction from customers is something that you can't quantify. It is hard to put into words.
SARAH: It is also terrifying. Really this job is about learning how to manage stress and the day to day challenges. You’re figuring it out, taking a breath, and not taking it home.
DEMETRI: You want to make sure you’re good to your employees and the people that come in.
SARAH: Respect and gratitude. We’ve become, in our older age, total homebodies. Netflix. Sometimes, KiKi’s, in our neighborhood. I would say we were able to get to this point in our lives with communication and respect.
DEMETRI: Certainly, communicate as much as possible. Not going to bed upset and just talking. You can’t bury anything. It is impossible for me to not talk about it, but I don’t want anybody holding anything in. Whether we disagree or not, we talk about it.
SARAH: And on top of all of that, keeping your intuition. You start to lose a bit of yourself, you get lost in the relationship. He can’t give me every single thing I need. I would be let down, and he would be let down! I can’t give him every single thing he needs.
DEMETRI: The more that Sarah allows me to be who I am, the more we naturally feel closer. It is not about retrofitting myself to this image she has of me.
Whether we disagree or not, we talk about it.