DV8 Kitchen

As owners of 4 successful restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky, Rob Perez and his wife Diane opened a restaurant operated by people in the early stages of substance use disorder recovery. DV8 offers them a fresh start and employment as they Deviate from the ways of their past and launch into a new way of living!

Trusting Christ to be Faithful

Rob Perez: DV8 is a restaurant who serves awesome food, but it's also a really wonderful place for people to work that are in early stages of substance use disorder recovery.

Diane Perez: They literally have nowhere to go if they ever get clean, who would ever hire them?

Rob Perez: Our background is building restaurant brands. I first did it for corporations, but now I get to do it for ourselves and hey, look, you're going to have to have all the things that you have in a general business. Why not support your message when you do it?

Diane Perez: God said, I feel even weird saying that, but he really did. He said, you and Rob could do this. You're restaurant people and you could do this in Lexington, something like this. So I came home and told him about it. He was like, yeah, that's a great idea, but I'll never do that.

Rob Perez: I didn't want to do this concept. I thought it was the stupidest idea ever.

Diane Perez: We have a relationship with the people that run the homes and so when they have a candidate they think might benefit from working at DV8, then they send them our way when we open.

Nobody came. And it was super interesting because I think they thought they were going to get their purse stolen or bad service or something. I don't know.

Rob Perez: We had to convince people to come in through just trying to be better at what we do than everybody else. Atmosphere, service, quality of food. We had to be better than everybody else by 20%, so the general public would even pay attention to us. And we found almost hands down that the quality was just this much better at DV8 than our for-profit restaurants in standards, efforts and relationships. And that is not trying to bolster some social mission. That's the facts.

Care for People Over Finances

Diane Perez: We're not here to make money. And that was a really weird thing for me at first and for Rob at first, because we don't want to make money on people's misfortune. And so the funny thing is we had these other restaurants and that's where we lived on, and this was going to be our little side project. Rob thought so. He thought, oh, Diane will do it and it'll be fun for her. And then that's kind of what he really thought until we opened and he started working with people and started. I mean, it's changed my life for sure just because now I know why I'm here.

Rob Perez: We gave our staff members the opportunity to be part of this mission by explaining to them that we need to change the stigma of addiction into the absolute opportunity of wowing people in recovery. So every single guest that walks in here has the opportunity to be an evangelist for people in recovery, and we can convert people one meal at a time.

Diane Perez: This is because of God. It's not anything to do with us, if that makes sense. I feel like we're just His vehicle, and so I feel like we're like seed planters almost just like with Jesus. You know what I mean? We're not here to fix anybody or save anybody, but if somebody stays here for two months and has a great time and fills Jesus and feels like their life's a little bit under control, but for me, I just hope their time here is something that they really love.

Rob Perez: We think that this is kind of a fertile ground to try to influence folks for the good because there is absolutely an unbelievable person that just is waiting to come out of what they look like today. DV8 has an arrow built into the logo and the arrow starts going down. This arrow represents our life and addiction. It is one bad decision followed by another bad decision, and our life becomes unmanageable and at the lowest point, hopefully the rock bottom, we realize that there's an opportunity. 

One day of good decisions turns into a week into a month, and pretty soon you're really heading up. And this idea is that we want to deviate from our past lifestyle of addiction and create an environment where we live a life that's completely different. At the top of our logo, there's a halo and we do it for the purpose of our faith, and we want to share that with our folks and make sure that they understand that a key component of happiness in this life is to search for an eternal focus.

Christ at Work Brings Life Change

Diane Perez: The coolest thing is seeing people change. We've had a girl that's been with us since almost the beginning, probably four years, and just to see her change over the years, it is just amazing.

Rob Perez: It's unbelievable how it's changed my life and I didn't trust the Lord. I didn't believe it could be done. I work with people that are unbelievable every day that many people don't see the value in, and that drives me, and I'm doing it because I love them and I love this business and I love the Lord. And when I work with them, I realize the charity that's best for me to give is of myself and my time and my effort that really mimics what Christ tried to teach us in the Gospels.

Diane Perez: I want to do something meaningful with my life that's God focused, and I'm not preaching at our people at all, but hopefully they see something in us that's different and they might say, I want a piece of that, or what is that?

Rob Perez: When I'm at work, we try to integrate service and giving of ourselves, and Christ gave us that example by being relational with folks that didn't obviously deserve God's love in our people's standards, but he did. I hit that pillow and I'm tired, but I'm happy and I'm more fulfilled than I've ever been in my life.

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