In 2013, restauranteurs Rob and Diane Perez realized that they had lost 13 employees to addiction over the past decade. They knew they had to take action. So they did what they knew best: they opened a restaurant.

A dual-purpose restaurant and social mission, DV8 (pronounced “deviate”) employs people throughout their recovery process. The restaurant helps those recovering from addiction learn transferrable job skills, gain financial independence, and build community and accountability.

But how does DV8 stay afloat in one of the toughest industries, with employees facing some of life’s toughest challenges? It’s simple: the Perezes demand excellence from their workers.

The New York Times explains how the shared commitment to recovery has built a community inside the restaurant:

A number of restaurants in the United States are giving workers with addictions a second chance, including Sérénité in Medina, Ohio, and Archie’s Grill in Shelburne, Vt. The Perezes visited several of them, but thought the standards that some set for troubled employees were too low.

“My guess is that they wanted to meet people where they were,” Mr. Perez said, but “I didn’t see a spark in people’s eyes, or pride in the food. I didn’t see professional behavior. I could always tell who the heroin addicts were.” Many of these places, including one of the couple’s favorites, Blochead Pizza in Cincinnati, ended up closing.

At DV8 Kitchen, one of four restaurants they own, the Perezes pay just over $12 an hour on average, which Mr. Perez said is 20 percent above the rate at many local fast-food chain restaurants. In turn, employees are held to exacting standards. There is no bar, and a zero-tolerance policy for tardiness. Tips are pooled, then added directly to paychecks, so no cash is exchanged. (The name is a play on the word “deviate” — a reference to the employees’ aim to detour from their pasts and rebuild their lives.)

The couple also hire from and work directly with treatment centers, adding an additional level of accountability for employees. …

Only five of the 25 or so recovering people they have hired have left because of a relapse or firing. (The national turnover rate for the hospitality industry, by comparison, was 70 percent in 2016, according to the National Restaurant Association.)

The restaurant certainly lives up to its motto: Life changing food. Read more about the way DV8 is transforming lives here.

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