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Sobriety and Success in Hospitality: Ben's Friends' Mission

Mickey Bakst

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Mickey Bakst

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Ben's Friends

In 1982 Mickey Bakst lost his first restaurant to alcohol and drug addiction, and it was also in that year that he found sobriety, after a long and painful struggle. For the next 40 years, Mickey watched countless peers lose their lives or destroy their careers due to their addictions. And for 40 years he asked himself, “What can I do to make a difference?”

After witnessing the death of yet another industry professional in 2016, Mickey and fellow restaurateur Steve Palmer founded Ben’s Friends, a support group for members of the food and beverage industry battling substance abuse and addiction. The mission of Ben’s Friends is to offer hope, fellowship, and a path forward to anyone who struggles with substance abuse and addiction. The organization is named in honor of Ben Murray, a chef who took his own life in 2016 after a long struggle with alcoholism. Now with decades of sobriety under his belt, Mickey believes that there are countless members of the restaurant industry in need of support facing the widespread effects of alcohol and drugs. Through Ben’s Friends, it is his hope to help as many as possible.

As Ben’s Friends Executive Director, Mickey has dedicated himself to the organization and focuses on spreading the word about Ben’s Friends to existing and emerging chapters across the country.