By Michelle Alello


There are several products on the market today that were created with the goal of offering people a second chance. Like Dave’s Killer Bread, for example, which was created by former felon Dave Dahl, or Sweet Beginnings, a Chicago business that provides just-released prisoners with job experience making honey and other products.

But Lexington’s DV8 Kitchen, a new restaurant and bakery at
867 South Broadway, takes that mission one step further by employing individuals who are in addiction recovery programs. Rob Perez (of Saul Good fame) and his wife Diane want to offer hope, training, and a second chance employment opportunity to people who are trying to redirect their lives. Their goal is to serve delicious food while also addressing a difficult problem in our community. The restaurant, which opened in September 2017, has been described by Perez as “Lexington’s first social enterprise restaurant and bakery.”

DV8 Kitchen is open daily for breakfast, lunch and brunch and specializes in all-natural, fresh baked goods made from scratch. In fact, all of their bread products  are made in-house. Upon walking into the modern space, decorated in subway tile and stainless steel, the smell of fresh bread and sizzling bacon fills the air. One of their specialties, and a customer favorite, are their croissant-style hot cinnamon rolls. The rolls come in three varieties – classic with cream cheese frosting, caramel pecan, and milk chocolate with frosting. Other baked goods include warm Southern biscuits, ciabatta bread, brioche buns, and sourdough loaves. Southern biscuits and brioche buns can be purchased by the dozen or half dozen. Gluten-free options are available as well.

Refreshingly DV8’s menu is not overrun with options, but everything they offer is fresh and appetizing. Along with crisp salads, the restaurant also serves a variety of sandwiches and burgers using all-natural chicken and black Angus beef. All of their sandwiches are topped with made-from-scratch dressings and sauces.

Brunch and lunch sandwich options include the Huevos Rancheros Sandwich with scrambled farm-fresh eggs, Mexican chorizo sausage, cheddar cheese, cilantro cream, tortilla strips, and green chili sauce. For a healthier option, the Basil Chicken Sandwich is made with all-natural grilled chicken tenders, avocado, basil aioli, lettuce and tomato. Fried chicken lovers will appreciate the Orange Marmalade Chicken Sandwich – with fried chicken tenders, orange marmalade, and honey butter. And destined to be a favorite, the All-Day Breakfast Burger is topped with a fried over-medium egg, cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, caramelized onions, dijonaise sauce, lettuce and tomato.

DV8’s salad offerings are simple but flavorful, with choices like the Chicken Salad –a riff on a traditional Waldorf salad with pecans, celery, mayo, and grapes. Saul Good fans will recognize the strawberry salad, a healthy treat tossed with slivered almonds and grapes in a sweet cider dressing. And the DV8 salad is a savory creation made with feta cheese, pecans, dried cranberries, red onion, and balsamic dressing.

Perez says that the idea for the restaurant originally came from his wife Diane, who wanted to create a place that would offer opportunities to a segment of the population that is often cast aside by employers. They worked on the project together for two years, and said that a bakery was the best option because it employed the greatest number of people.

“People in the early stage of substance abuse recovery often find it difficult to find employers willing to take a chance on them,” he said.  Not everyone who works there will be in recovery, but  “about one third of our staff are employees trying to ‘deviate’ from their past lifestyle,” according to Perez. They have hired staff from several transitional housing programs around Lexington, such as Shepherd’s House, The Lighthouse Ministries, Chrysalis House, and the Hope Center. They also work with Revive Life House in Jessamine County.

In addition to offering employment, DV8 Kitchen conducts workshops designed to pass along basic life skills and knowledge, in hopes of helping employees achieve success in any field.

Notably, the couple’s passion for rehabilitation comes from their own experience. “It was really a kind of amalgamation of my wife’s life and my life,” Perez recently told LEX 18. “Diane helped me through rehab at twenty-five and showed me that someone can be supportive and loving and also hold me accountable.”