A Restaurant Staffed by Recovering Addicts

In 2012, when Executive Chef Aaron Cozadd found himself in jail following a second arrest for driving under the influence, he began dreaming of introducing a restaurant concept focused on providing support to a staff of individuals recovering from addiction. According to a national survey, the hospitality sector (specifically restaurant and hotel staff) has the highest rate of drug use of any industry.

Cozadd, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America, admits that “the restaurant industry has carried a dark negative stigma.” After more than 10 years of effort, Vigilante Kitchen + Bar opened its doors in Detroit on June 30.

With an upscale menu focused on Midwest flavors with Asian influences, the restaurant has a stated mission to provide staff with assistance, support, and resources that help them walk through recovery and create a healthy work-life balance. Full-time employees can take advantage of benefits like on-site recovery meetings, counseling, fitness programs, and health insurance.

Chef de Cuisine Jermain Mills, a former addict himself, adds, “We have a lot of people within the kitchen that are leaders that are able to see things or if somebody comes to us or an employee has an issue, we will be able to deal with it instead of them just crashing out on alcohol and drugs.”

More and more Citygate Network members run culinary programs that focus not only on teaching a marketable skill, but supporting and empowering participants navigating life transformation. Perhaps there are things about this operation that culinary students should know.

The 300+ organizations in Citygate Network membership seek to move people in desperate situations and destitute conditions (i.e., hungry, homeless, abused, and addicted) from human suffering to human flourishing through the process of gospel-powered life transformation. If you or someone you love is in need of Christ-centered compassion and care, please visit our member locator page today to find a mission near you.

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