Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lexington restaurant gives people with addictions second chance

A Lexington restaurant was recently profiled in The New York Times for its efforts in giving people in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction a second chance.

DV8 Kitchen opened last September and not only hires people in treatment for an addiction, "but also focuses its entire business model on recovery, using the restaurant setting as a tool for rehabilitation," the Times' Priya Krishna reports.

Diane Perez and Rob Perez (Photo by
Pablo Alcala, Lexington Herald-Leader)
"The name is a play on the word “deviate” — a reference to the employees’ aim to detour from their pasts and rebuild their lives," Krishna writes. The restaurant is owned by Rob and Diane Perez, who also own Saul Good Restaurant & Pub.

The owners told the Times that over the course of 10 years in the restaurant business, they had lost 13 employees to addiction, and half of the cases were related to opioids. “They were not fired,” Mr. Perez told Krishna. “They were dead.”

Krishna writes that the restaurant culture is conducive to alcohol and drug use, with late nights, free shift drinks and tips paid in cash, "the common medium for drug transactions."

“There are more late nights than early mornings, and it’s acceptable to have a hangover,” said Rob Perez, a recovering alcoholic who told Krishna he had been sober since 1990. “You think all this is fun and normal, because everyone else has that lifestyle.”

In 2016, Kentucky had 1,419 drug-overdose deaths, about four per day. Lt. Jessica Bowman, a public information officer for the Lexington Fire Department, told Krishna that paramedics in Lexington have administered Narcan, the overdose-reversal drug, to at least one person every day since July 2016.

The Perezes told the Times that they hold their employees to "exacting standards" and that by hiring from and working directly with treatment centers, this adds an extra layer of accountability.

Janet Patton of the Lexington Herald-Leader writes, "The Perezes focus on training people on baking cinnamon rolls as well as on life skills such as living in recovery. To help employees make evening support meetings, DV8 Kitchen only serves breakfast and lunch most days, focusing on breads and rolls."

“We are not certified experts on this, nor do we claim to be,” Diane Perez told the Times. “We are just providing the piece of the puzzle that is giving people a job right away when they are getting clean.”

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