Essex Junction business opens the door for second chances

People in recovery can have a hard time finding a job, so Mark BBQ is opening the door for second chances.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 11:29 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2022 at 5:49 AM EDT
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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - People in recovery can have a hard time finding a job, so An Essex Junction restaurant is opening the door for second chances.

“I went to 35 job interviews and they were all no’s, and they were horrible no’s,” said Casey DeGuise, general manager at Mark BBQ.

Just out of jail, living in a sober home, and looking to start over, he was upfront about his situation to potential employers. “I would tell them I was in recovery, I had pending federal charges, and I have state probation, but I’m a hard worker and I want to get my life rolling,” DeGuise said. He’s been in recovery for three and a half years.

Then he went to job interview number 36 at Mark BBQ. “I was like, ‘if you don’t want to continue this anymore, I can go,’” DeGuise said of his interview with owner Darrell Langworthy. “He was like, ‘No, let’s continue. Sit back down please.’”

Langworthy says at that moment, he saw someone who was honest and really looking to turn their life around. “I gave someone who was looking for a chance at life that chance he was looking for and I didn’t realize that until we had a discussion a year later. He said, ‘If you hadn’t given me that job, I’d probably be right back to what I was doing before,’” Langworthy said.

Because taking a gamble on DeGuise was such a good choice, Langworthy continues to hire people openly in recovery and work with them the best he can. Right now, they’re working on building a Recovery Kitchen program. “My father told me once, ‘You hire people, not employees,’” Langworthy said. “If you hire people, you win every time. If you hire employees, you get what you pay for.”

“Do the hard work. If you’re uncomfortable, you’re probably on to something great,” DeGuise said. “If you work hard, you can do anything.”

The business posts about its employee’s recovery milestones on social media. DeGuise says they’re usually met with support from the community.

It’s also opened the door to many meaningful conversations.

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