Check out Rob Perez talking about his social enterprise, DV8 Kitchen, and why it’s important for ALL employers to hire at least one second chance employee.
We saw time and time again how our DV8 employees would be released from incarceration, enter a recovery program and demonstrate success as an employee and productive community member. Still, over a year later, other employers were not offering them jobs. The Perez’s decided to share the mistakes, successes and systems created to predict success when employing people with a past of addiction and incarceration and created Soulfull Enterprise.
Early in his career as General Manager of the Hard Rock Café in Dallas, Rob saw firsthand how to build a world class restaurant, brand and management team. As General Manager of the Orlando Hard Rock, he led the team to achieve annual sales of over $42 million. Rob’s successful track record led him to the position of Director of New Openings for Hard Rock International. Rob was charged with project management, city government liaison and negotiating leases. He opened restaurants in Miami, Nashville, Myrtle Beach and San Antonio achieving rave reviews. During his 9 years at Hard Rock Café, Rob helped the company increase from 3 restaurants to over 30.
In 1995, The Walt Disney Company acquired ESPN. Disney’s goal was to leverage the ESPN brand. Rob was lured to Southern California for this challenge, whee he was an integral part of the development and creation of the ESPN ZONE. Rob developed every aspect of training, development, culinary, operations, policies and procedures that formed the foundation of this new and exciting restaurant experience. After the first ESPN ZONE opened in Baltimore, Rob led the operations team to successful openings in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Anaheim, Las Vegas and Denver. Rob grew the ESPN ZONE into a $100 million + business and was recognized by the National Restaurant Association for the prestigious “Hot Concept Award” in 2001.
Rob dedicated 5 years to acquiring an in depth knowledge of the franchise restaurant business. Rob’s passion for the restaurant business led him to New Orleans to take the reins as Vice President of Operations for Copeland’s Restaurants, overseeing 48 restaurants with sales in excess of $160 million. Rob established a new restaurant opening process, which improved profitability 150% in the first 90 days of operation. After mastering the franchisor role, Rob became a senior operator with one of the nation’s most successful Applebee’s franchisees located in Lexington, Kentucky. Rob successfully established plans to improve profit, led strategic planning and implementation of training and established a comprehensive development program to address diversity.
Rob’s strengths are founded in his creativity and his ability to lead and direct teams while focusing on systems that deliver profitability. His expertise is broad and covers all aspects of restaurant operations. This includes menu development, purchasing, management of food quality, service, labor, atmosphere, and cost. In addition, Rob has successfully opened restaurants throughout the country and has built vendor and business relationships in complex, high volume, multi-level operations.
In 2008, Rob and his wife Diane created, developed and operated Saul Good Restaurants & Pub in Lexington, KY until May 2022. Rob has seen firsthand how to build restaurant brands and how prevalent addiction is in the industry he loves. Rob and Diane founded DV8 Kitchen as a social enterprise focused on giving second chance employment opportunities to people in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. DV8 Kitchen focuses on providing top-quality food, service and atmosphere for every guest. By providing “a better-than-expected” dining experience, the hope is to build a new standard for the second chance employee to live by and to change the way the guests perceive people in addiction recovery. There are now two DV8 Kitchen in Lexington as well as a wholesale bakery.