LEXINGTON, Ky. — The opioid epidemic continues to ravage the Commonwealth. But a new restaurant in Lexington’s East End is aiming to help those in substance abuse recovery and striving to set a new tone for the food industry.

What You Need To Know

  • DV8's newest location is at 594 E. Third St.

  • Owner Rob Perez opened DV8 as a second chance employment

  • DV8 employs 100% of people in active recovery 

  • DV8 rotates weekly specials for new pastry options

DV8 Kitchen serves up more than sweet pastries and breakfast items. The owner, Rob Perez, is celebrating 31 years sober, but he is not stopping there. He is making his purpose in life to help others.

“The goal is to find people that are in active recovery,” said Perez.

Owner Rob Perez points to graffiti artwork on the building of DV8 Kitchen behind him. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

The goal of DV8 is to employ people in active recovery in hopes that they can leave addiction behind them and follow the 12-step recovery plan for sobriety. The 12-step recovery plan starts with honesty and ends with service.

“The idea is hope, and the beginning of what we do is have our graffiti installation here, and that is hope,” said Perez.

This hope has not always existed for Perez. It took numerous conversations with his wife to give him the hope of hiring those in recovery to help his business strategy. His employees maintain sobriety in return for working in an encouraging environment, with everything from exposed ceiling pipes to an open kitchen layout exhibiting transparency between Perez and his staff.

“We work with our staff and we even designed our building to contemplate that. It is about how do you live a life with no secrets, with no hidden agendas,” said Perez.

Owner Rob Perez points to graffiti artwork on the building of DV8 Kitchen behind him. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

The employees at DV8 have to be honest with themselves and honest with each other for things to run smoothly.

“Having brothers and sisters around you in recovery, they keep you accountable. Things like, 'Are you alright? What is going on with you? What step are you working on? Are you having a difficult time with it?'" said DV8 kitchen chef Hannah Coffey.

Coffey provides support and receives it from her colleagues. Coffey attended the University of Kentucky before transferring to Sullivan University. That is something she is thankful for in addition to finding her true passion in life. She chooses recovery as a way to have better control of her life.

“We build each other up on a daily basis. The key is one day at a time, 24 hours, stay sober, are you still sober today? If you are, all the praise,” said Coffey.

“We can have a good relationship as an employer with each of these folks no matter what their past is. Encourage them to be in recovery, hold them accountable to be in recovery, great things happen,” said Perez.

Perez is proud to boast 100% of DV8 kitchen employees are on the path of recovery. Those same employees learn new weekly recipes from chef Coffey for new specials.

“If you give someone a chance in recovery, they can perform and outperform the general population,” said Perez.

Perez said opening a third DV8 Kitchen location is not out of the question, and he looks forward to continuing to build tenure with his staff.