Restaurant That Gives Second Chances To People In Recovery Gets Rave Reviews

By Victoria Kim 08/16/18

DV8 Kitchen provides a supportive, flexible work environment to ensure employees are "meeting their goals and staying on a good path."

DV8 Kitchen staff

One restaurant is not only giving people in recovery a second chance—they’re doing it incredibly well.

DV8 Kitchen, which was recently featured in The Fix, opened last September, but it’s already garnered rave reviews and five stars on Yelp.

All 25 employees at DV8 are in recovery from substance use disorder. Co-owner Rob Perez himself has 28 years of recovery. “I was a binge drinker. I didn’t have to drink everyday but when I did, I would frequently get out of control,” he told The Fix.

With his Lexington, Kentucky eatery, Perez has created a workplace that caters to recovery. “Our staff don’t leave programs or meetings or houses and come to a foreign environment 40 hours a week, they come to a place where we all speak the same language, have the same customs, and discussions, so it’s a 24/7 program,” said Perez.

The restaurant functions around the needs of the employees. For example, as Perez explained to the Dayton Daily News, DV8 does not open for dinner service so that employees may attend meetings, and tips are split evenly and added to paychecks instead of giving out cash.

Schedules are flexible and work to fit in mandatory appointments for court or treatment centers, and each Tuesday a guest speaker comes in, covering topics including health and wellness, financial responsibility, teamwork and mindfulness.

The restaurant works in partnership with treatment centers, where most new employees are hired from. “We work in tandem with the sober living houses to ensure the employee is meeting their goals and staying on a good path,” Perez told The Fix.

Perez is well aware that, whether they like it or not, DV8 has something to prove. It’s more than a restaurant, it’s a chance to show people that “second chance” doesn’t mean “second rate.”

Hoping to establish a higher standard for his restaurant, employees are paid 20% more than they would get at similar fast-casual restaurants, resulting in less turnover and better service, Perez told the Daily News.

“I think that the customers see a different face of recovery. It is about helping the folks that work here,” Perez told the Daily News. “But it’s also about helping the general public understand that the recovery community is worth a shot. The recovery community can perform good work.”

Perez believes that with hard work comes self-respect. “When you do a job with quality, you build self respect, self-esteem and pride in a craft you’re developing,” he told The Fix. “In recovery, we need a support system and an accountability system. And the camaraderie you get out of a job when you have common interests, backgrounds and circumstances, is pretty powerful.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr