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April 26, 2021

Ben’s Friends returns to in-person meetings

The non-profit supports sobriety in the restaurant industry


After more than a year of hosting support sessions over Zoom, Ben’s Friends is relaunching in-person meetings in Charlotte. The first meeting takes place today, Monday, April 26, at 11 a.m. at O-Ku in South End.

Ben’s Friends is a non-profit started by restaurateurs Mickey Bakst and Steve Palmer in honor of a friend, Ben Murray, who lost his life to suicide after a long struggle with alcoholism. The non-profit started in Charleston before expanding to Charlotte, where Palmer owns O-Ku Charlotte, Oak Steakhouse, and Indaco. The local chapter is run by chef Sam Diminich of Your Farms, Your Table, who shared his addiction and recovery story with us in the start of the pandemic. Isolation can be a significant factor in relapse, bringing added urgency to the in-person meetings. As in-person meetings become safer thanks to increased vaccinations, isolation is less of a concern. Restaurant openings, however, bring another issue.

“Obviously we have this massive labor crisis, especially in food and beverage, so my concern is this: that people who are out there that are struggling with substance abuse, alcoholism, and addiction are going to wind up getting caught in a situation where — taking into consideration the labor crisis and the shortage — they’re not going to make time to take care of themselves,” Diminich says. “And if you’re not taking care of yourselves, chances are you’re not giving yourself the proper time and focusing on needs as it pertains to recovery.”

Meetings will take place each Monday at 11 a.m., in addition to national online meetings taking place at 1 p.m. Diminich also hosts a virtual national meeting at 11 p.m. on Thursday evenings. There are also discussions specifically for women on Wednesdays. The meetings are centered around a certain subject brought by a participant who may have something on their mind or need support from others.

To support Ben’s Friends, you can make a donation here.

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