Community Posts ~ Sonoma Valley Sun


Ben’s Friends Launches Sonoma Chapter

Posted on June 11, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Ben’s Friends, a national support group for people in the hospitality industry struggling with addiction, is excited to announce its expansion into Sonoma. The first meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 15 from 10am – 11am, at Healdsburg Bar & Grill (245 Healdsburg Ave.). Meetings will be held at the same time and location every Tuesday thereafter. The chapter will be led by Bryan Bergman and Jason Baumgarten.

“Steve Palmer and I are humbled to have the opportunity to further expand Ben’s Friends to support restaurant professionals in the Sonoma area,” says Ben’s Friends Co-Founder Mickey Bakst. “As we expand into each new city, we are excited to see so many in our industry seeking a new way of living through sobriety.”

Ben’s Friends was founded by Charleston, S.C.-based restaurateurs Steve Palmer and Mickey Bakst in honor of Ben Murray, a chef and colleague who took his own life after struggling with alcoholism. The organization exists to offer hope, fellowship, and a path forward for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction in an industry that has one of the highest rates of substance abuse in the country. 

Ben’s Friends has chapters in 13 cities across the country, and after taking its meetings virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, is beginning to return to in-person meetings in select cities. National Zoom meetings are still hosted weekly, as well as women- and men-only meetings. 

Ben’s Friends always welcomes new members, so please feel free to join at any time. For more information on the organization, visit


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