How Ben’s Friends combats addiction in the hospitality industry


OpenTable is proud to partner with Ben’s Friends, a nationwide food and beverage industry support group offering community, hope, and a path forward to those who struggle with substance abuse and addiction.

One of the things that makes Ben’s Friends so effective is that they provide all services free of charge to chefs, line cooks, bartenders, servers, back-of-house team members, and so many more.

Aside from in-person meetings in cities across the country, those seeking help and support can also visit Ben’s Friends to join their daily Zoom meetings (1 pm ET or Monday, Thursday and Saturday nights at 11 pm ET) and learn more about their resources.

To help raise awareness and funds, Ben’s Friends and OpenTable are hosting a benefit dinner at veteran local chef Todd Woods’s Oak Steakhouse in Raleigh, NC. Together with chefs Scott Crawford and Sam Diminich, they’ll craft a multi-course feast—with every bite supporting Ben’s Friends. Learn more below and get your seats now to support a great cause.

June 2: Chefs Scott Crawford, Sam Diminich, and Todd Woods at Oak Steakhouse in Raleigh

Aside from joining us at the upcoming event, here are five other ways you can do your part within your community:

  1. Plug into local, community resources – By using community resources exclusive to their home city, employees feel a greater sense of purpose and belonging and are more likely to connect with like-minded individuals in the area.
  2. Get creative with your performance incentives – Rather than offering traditional performance incentives such as parties, alcohol, or days off, consider options that promote mindfulness, community, and wellness. Gifts like cookbooks to gain inspiration or the opportunity for younger chefs to feature their dish as a special on the menu are excellent alternatives. You can also create internal clubs and events focused on healthier options like fitness or volunteering for your team to enjoy each other outside the workspace.
  3. Acknowledge the problem instead of turning a blind eye – Host open dialogues with employees, allowing them to congregate and give or receive advice. To continue support, implement a system to help employees get the help they need when an issue is identified. Regularly recognizing the problem within the industry and restaurants themselves helps provide continuous support.
  4. Implement programs to set employees up for success – Start with the necessities: health insurance, therapists, and addiction specialists. Access to these benefits will put employees on healthy pathways from day one – and help them stay there. You can even innovate and create different business models that address margins and pricing as some of these benefits like insurance will cost more in the short term, but will pay back in the long term.
  5. Create a Ben’s Friends chapter in your restaurant or community – The main requirement to upstart a chapter is one person with two years of sobriety who is willing to coordinate a weekly meeting. To get started, the local lead attends national meetings as a participant and then engages in conversation with several of the national leaders. Ben’s Friends will be there to help promote and to guide live meetings hosted weekly.