LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Its slogan is "life-changing food," and a new Lexington restaurant is serving up second chances.
DV8 Kitchen is set to open later this month on South Broadway near Red Mile, with a menu of fresh bread and bakery items, and breakfast sandwiches all day.
Owner Rob Perez, who also owns Saul Good, says a third of the restaurant's workers will be "second-chance" employees - folks in the early stages of recovery from addiction and part of recovery and transitional housing programs in Lexington like Shepherds House and Chrysalis House, among others.
"We'll work in collaboration with those facilities, just to make sure that we hold them accountable while we love on them," Perez said. "We want to be the place that says, 'Hey, look, if you're willing to give yourself help, we want to help you.'"
Perez said recovering addicts - many who may have a criminal history or other damaging information posted about them online - often have difficulty overcoming their past and finding a job.
"If we can have someone come in here and work, build a little bit of pride, some more self-respect and encourage them along their way," Perez said, "then it might have the chance to change their life in a small way."
The concept comes from a personal place for Perez and his wife. Perez says he went through rehab himself when he was 25, with the support and accountability of his wife, who he says has a heart for others.
Alcohol and drugs have also claimed the lives of more than 10 workers at his other restaurants, Perez said.
Perez and his wife opened the restaurant as a social enterprise, garnering financial support through $10,000 loans from 25 different people, and soliciting support in the construction and decoration of the restaurant from other community members.
But Perez says for the whole thing to work when the doors open, the food has to be good, and it has to be a place people want to come. He thinks they have that, with a fun atmosphere, fresh scratch-made food (including cinnamon rolls he claims are the best in the city), and a bakery inside within full view of the customers. Graffiti art adorns several walls, including the bathrooms. One wall will be a chalkboard which they are calling the Prayer Wall, where folks can write their prayer for the day.
Perez says they also plan to host workshops to help the second-chance employees learn other skills to help their lives and careers.
The restaurant opens to the public August 28.