By Jen Roytz
A new restaurant in Lexington is combining good food and an admirable mission to make a difference in people’s lives. DV8 Kitchen, which opened its doors in August this past year, offers inspired and mouth-watering breakfast and lunch offerings, many of which are crafted using their scratch-made breads and biscuits and locally-sourced ingredients.
What sets this restaurant spot apart from the rest, however, is its commitment to the community.
One out of every three employees at DV8 Kitchen is a second chance employee who is in a treatment program for substance abuse and working hard to chart a new course for their life. The idea behind this unique approach is the brainchild of Rob and Diane Perez, who wanted to create a way to help people who were committed to changing their lives, but lacking the helping hand to do so.
“It’s really the brainchild of my wife, Diane,” said Rob Perez, who, along with his wife, owns Saul Good, a popular Lexington restaurant with three locations around the city. “She had the vision of a restaurant helping people in the early stages of recovery due to our own life experiences.”
Perez says they chose a breakfast and bakery concept to employ the most people. The couple works with several transitional housing programs in Lexington to identify and hire some of their staff.
“We provide them with a job that pays them 20% more than market rate, but we also provide them a community of support with others who have been where they are in their recovery,” said Perez. “We’re not only sensitive to the needs of someone going through recovery, but we run the restaurant in a way that’s more accountable for someone going through recovery.”
The concept is working. DV8 has been garnering rave reviews from Lexington locals for both their food and their service.
Some of DV8’s featured offerings include their huevos rancheros sandwich, orange marmalade chicken sandwich and their all-day breakfast burger. They have quickly garnered a following around town for their cinnamon rolls as well, which come in three varieties: classic with cream cheese frosting, caramel with pecans and milk chocolate with frosting.
Perez says that by operating with a high level of accountability, DV8 is able to offer a higher caliber of product and a higher level of service, which is important not only to his customers, but to his staff. He and his wife have seen how the standards set and maintained in their restaurant transfer to other aspects of their second chance employees’ lives.
“Second chance employees at DV8 make more than they could elsewhere because they are held to higher standards,” said Perez. “They learn to take pride in their work and we soon see that trickle down into other aspects of their lives, like being a more accountable spouse or parent.”
Jarrod Thornton, one of the restaurant’s second chance employees who completed a substance abuse treatment program, says his career at DV8 is an integral part of his continued sobriety.
“There’s a fine line between someone’s work life and personal life, and there’s usually a lot of overflow between the two,” said Thornton. “Second chance employment helps us bridge the gap between our work lives and our personal lives and helps to keep us accountable. All of our cards are on the table there and Rob holds us to a high standard, and we then hold ourselves to that standard in our personal lives and in our sobriety. We have a sense of pride in our work, and that really helps me in my recovery.”
DV8 Kitchen is located just minutes from Keeneland at 867 S. Broadway #140, Lexington, KY 40504.