Local chef and restaurateur Louie Bossi hosted the third annual Taste of Recovery benefit on Saturday evening in Delray Beach for the Crossroads Club, a meeting space for individuals in recovery.
Bossi is himself an example of success after recovering from substance abuse.
He’s now a partner in Big Time Restaurant Group of West Palm Beach, is the operator of 12 restaurants operated under brands such as Rocco’s Tacos, Big City Tavern and City Oyster and Sushi Bar.
Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Bossi stumbled upon recreational drugs and alcohol in his late teens.
“I went down a bad road. I ended up being homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol and moved to Florida and started a new life down here,” he said. “So, The Crossroads Club is where I started to get clean and sober.”
According to the assistant executive director, Steven English, the club is a 37-year-old charitable organization and refuge that services people who are pursuing recovery. The club is not intended to be used or looked upon as a treatment center, he said, but rather as a meeting house that provides all types of 12 step-oriented programming.
“We really are like a health organization that services the population of the community that is trying to stay sober and abstinent from whatever drug of choice or issue they might have in their past,” English said.
The club is open seven days a week, operating 365 days of the year and routinely sees about 700 to 800 people walk through its doors daily.
English said Bossi is the leading force behind the idea of creating the Taste of Recovery benefit. He noted that that restaurant workers tend to have a higher rate of addiction because of the stresses and strains of being in a fast-paced environment.
With the sounds of Dave Scott & The Restless Shots blasting in the background, this year’s benefit brought in about 150 people and 20 restaurants displaying their dishes. English said that as the years have gone by, the attendance and food has only expanded.
“I think the acceptance of recovery has helped increase the amount of participation in these events because we are seen as part of the solution versus part of the problem,” he added.
English said he believes that the benefit also helps the community get a better perspective of what recovery really entails by reducing the notion that a person can’t have fun in sobriety.
The Crossroads Club has helped recover more than 1,200 people, including this year’s masters of ceremony couple, Jim and Tara Scanzillo.
“It’s where I rebuilt my life,” Tara Scanzillo said. “We have such an amazing fellowship and you probably know about 80 percent of the people here and it’s all because we’re all striving to live a healthy, sober life and we wouldn’t do it without the Crossroads.”
As the years go by, Bossi hopes to bring the Taste of Recovery across the nation.
“You know that was the plan from the beginning,” he said. “That someday somebody picks us up like a giant sponsor that sponsors the event every year and it becomes a national thing.”