A Restaurant Takes on the Opioid Crisis: One Worker at a Time

Five years ago, Rob and Diane Perez discovered their top server was doing heroin in the bathroom of their Saul Good Restaurant & Pub in Kentucky. The realization reminded them of others they had lost; 13 employees over 10 years died while battling addictions, half of which were opioid related.
The Perezes decided to take the opioid crisis into their own hands, opening DV8 Kitchen last September. The new restaurant hires people in treatment for addiction to opioids or other substances; it also focuses its business model on recovery using the restaurant as a tool for rehabilitation. Rob Perez had his own struggles with alcohol addiction, and has now been sober for over two decades. He recognizes that restaurant culture has long been associated with alcohol, drugs, and late nights. Yet, he sees how the setting of a restaurant can also have potential to help others recover like he has. There are different aspects in this setting that bring the restaurant together as a whole, from customer service, to cooking and baking, to finances, and the Perezes are happy to help teach others those businesses.
The Perezes pay about 20% above the rate of many local fast-food restaurants, and hold their employees to exacting standards. This means there is no bar, no tolerance for tardiness, and no cash is exchanged (tips are added directly to paychecks). While they don’t claim to be experts, they hire from and work directly with treatment centers, which adds an additional level of accountability for employees. To learn more about the Perezes, the simple menu at their restaurant, and how they hope to help those in recovery get back on their feet, visit here.