“At the supposed peak of my career, with a James Beard nomination and a string of other awards in hand, I broke. Except this time I couldn’t keep going. My restaurant was failing; in spite of the immense press we received, we remained mostly empty, often cooking for just a handful of people each night. I had been battling a lawsuit brought by a former customer, and I had eaten myself alive with self-doubt. I possessed no coping skills. I had abandoned my friends and family. I’d completely tuned out the advice of teachers and mentors. What played out over the next few months was a cliché: The restaurant closed, I filed for bankruptcy, and I took stock of my life and saw nothing.”—Ari Taymor
“The average leisure and hospitality employee stays at one job for only 2.2 years. With hazardous working conditions and low rates of health benefits, high levels of attrition are hardly surprising. With a chef shortage, attrition is costly and retention is vital for the restaurant industry. Chefs may love cooking, servers may have a passion for hospitality, and bartenders may excel at making drinks, but a harsh working environment may knock some would-be long-termers out of the game early.”—Dakota Kim
Read “New Businesses Give Restaurant Workers The Tips They Ache For: Wellness” at NPR: The Salt
“In hindsight, the turning point in my career probably should have happened 25 years ago.
I was 17, a busser who could clear dishes and reset tables faster than anyone – when it was busy. Slow nights I slacked off. Then a manager I respected pulled me aside and said, ‘There’s no doubt about your ability, but you can’t only be good when we’re busy, you need to be good all the time.’
The conversation stuck with me, but I wish I could say the lesson stuck. The reality is my years in restaurants led to a cycle of alcohol and drug abuse. And now, sober and in a new stage of my career, the restaurant is where I’m looking for transformation.
Anyone who started out in the restaurant scene when I did – the early 90’s – knows how much it’s changed. Back then, being a part of a restaurant staff meant being part of the party—which really, never stopped.”—Ted Ripko
Read “The Restaurant Scene Fed My Addictions. Now It’s Giving Me Purpose.” at Upserve
“The Indigo Road Restaurant Group’s Steve Palmer, an Atlanta native, owns fifteen bars and restaurants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia—including Atlanta’s Oak Steakhouse, Colletta, and O-Ku. Palmer says his most important work, though, is for Ben’s Friends.
The 501(c)(3) is named for chef Ben Murray, Palmer’s friend and colleague who battled addiction and depression. Murray ultimately committed suicide last year, and Palmer founded Ben’s Friends soon after.
‘At its core, it’s a group of people who have a common goal of trying to stay sober,’ says Palmer, who has himself been in recovery for 15 years. The group meets every Sunday at an old cigar warehouse in Charleston. “It’s a safe space to talk.'”—Julia Bainbridge
Read “Indigo Road’s Steve Palmer wants to help Atlanta restaurant workers battle substance abuse” in Atlanta Magazine
“Mickey Bakst did just about everything during his working years that were swallowed up by addiction. He did alcohol. He did drugs. When he was trying to prove to himself that he wasn’t an alcoholic, he did three bottles of NyQuil a night.
The only thing that Bakst didn’t do was die. It’s a miracle the Charleston Grill general manager attributes to the conviction he developed, around the time he woke up in a straitjacket, “that if I were to drink or drug again, I would kill myself.”
Bakst has now been clean for 34 years. His friend Steve Palmer, managing partner of the Indigo Road Restaurant Group, this month is marking 15 years of sobriety.”—Hanna Raskin
Read “Locals lead fight against substance abuse and other life-threatening issues in F&B industry” at The Post and Courier