A lifeline for hospitality workers.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the food service and hospitality industry has the highest rates of substance use disorders and third-highest rates of heavy alcohol use of all employment sectors.
Grant Hurless, COO of Ghost Town Restaurants based in Brookhaven, knows the pitfalls all too well. “By August 2018, my drinking had gotten so heavy that I knew it wasn’t sustainable,” he says.
“In desperation I Googled ‘how to stay sober in the industry’ and found Ben’s Friends. It was founded by legendary restaurateurs Steve Palmer and Mickey Bakst after the death of their colleague, Chef Ben Murray, who took his own life as a result of the disease.”
“I ran into a friend who had gotten clean and looked like a totally different person,” Hurless says. “I set a goal to get sober and found help within the group. It changed my life.”
When the support group relaunched the Atlanta chapter, Hurless was tapped as the leader, along with co-leader Mallory Hastings. Two and a half years of sobriety later, he is helping industry workers find the support they need.
The group meets every Sunday at Southern Belle Restaurant in Midtown, and the only requisite for membership is the desire to stop drinking or be “sober curious.” Ben’s Friends has 12 chapters in the United States and conducts online Zoom meetings every day.
For more information, visit bensfriendshope.com.
Award-winning Ghostwriter, Journalist, Content Creator.