At Rojo Mexican Grill, Recovering Addicts Given a Chance to Work
In the last couple years, Rojo Mexican Grill has hired nearly a dozen employees in drug and alcohol recovery programs. The addicts "have been my best employees on any level," Rojo's general manager says.
About two years ago, a New Jersey native named Mickey, a resident at the St. Louis Park chemical dependency home Crossroads Aftercare, walked into Rojo Mexican Grill looking for a job.
"He was more nervous than I have ever seen an applicant, but something
about him struck me," Adam Lehr, Rojo's general manager, told KARE 11. "He had an honesty in his eyes, and he just
told me a little about his story—he was here from out of town and I didn't know anything other than that."
As Mickey became one of the restaurant's best employees, he started to open up and talk about his identity as a recovering addict to drugs and alcohol.
"When I did tell people everybody was accepting, cared about me,
asked questions, wanted to know my story," he told the station. "The obsession is pretty much gone."
Today, Mickey is joined at Rojo by nearly a dozen employees in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Lehr, the Rojo general manager, told KARE 11 that he wanted to offer people a chance to change.
"My father had alcoholism my entire life, as long as I was child," he said. "He
died about eight years ago because he never could get it. Could never
get his demons in check. And so I know how hard it is."
He said hiring employees in recovery has paid off on both a personal and a business level.
"If somebody is going to relapse on any given day, they are not going
to be here, so if anything I have been harder on those guys than usual
employees," Lehr said. "That being said, they have been my best employees on any