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DV8 Kitchen

Renee visits DV8 Kitchen, a restaurant and bakery in Lexington that provides second chance employment opportunities for people in substance recovery who are trying to redirect their lives. She speaks with Rob and Diane Perez about their vision for the restaurant and its support from the community. Renee also talks with employees at the eatery to hear their stories of recovery.
Season 13 Episode 17 Length 28:37 Premiere: 01/19/18

DV8 Kitchen: A Restaurant Providing Second Chances

Like so many people struggling with substance abuse, Dan Rison found himself on the path to addiction following a medical procedure.

He was only 14 years old when he had surgery to correct a birth defect. That was followed by a regime of prescribed painkillers, which launched the addiction he would fight through his early 20s.

Treatment helped him overcome his disease, but recovery held its own challenges. He says employers weren’t eager to hire a young man with a history of drug use and a criminal record.

“I found it difficult trying to find even the most basic, entry-level job,” Rison says. “I didn’t know where I would end up, until I got in touch with Rob and Diane.”

That’s Rob and Diane Perez, the owners of DV8 Kitchen, a Lexington café and bakery that hires people like Rison – people in recovery who need a second chance. KET’s Connections visited the restaurant to learn more about this unique approach to fighting the opioid crisis.

Rob Perez understands what Rison has experienced because he’s been there himself. He abused alcohol and drugs when he was a teenager but he says he didn’t realize he had an addiction.

“I knew it was a way to be social and to have fun, Perez says. “I didn’t even recognize how bad I was hurting other people, to be honest. I thought it was normal.”

Perez was 25 when he hit bottom and entered treatment. He credits his wife Diane with helping him through the rehabilitation process.

“I’m just blessed to be able to have a wife that loves me through it or kicks me in the butt when I need it,” Rob says.

The couple went on to found Saul Good, a casual restaurant and pub with three locations in Lexington. But addiction once again entered their lives. Rob says 13 of their employees died over the years because of addiction. Diane says that’s not uncommon for the food service industry.

“Most people don’t do background checks, they have a flexible schedule, and then there’s cash at end of the night,” Diane says. “So it just breeds addiction.”

In one instance, the Perezes caught their best server doing heroin at work. Diane took the girl under her wing and eventually helped get her into a six-month treatment program in Louisville. After rehab, Rob says she seemed well on her way to recovery. She landed a job with a high-end grocery but then, days later, she was fired after the store manager reviewed her background check.

“I don’t blame the company, I just blame our attitude as a society about addiction,” Rob says. “She had a drug possession and shoplifting in her background and they didn’t want to hire her because they were afraid of the risk to them, but what about the risk to her?”

Rob says that girl soon returned to using drugs and is now a fugitive.

A Business Designed for People in Recovery
Diane Perez realized there had to be a better way to help people like that girl get back on their feet and able to provide for themselves. She envisioned a restaurant that would give second-chance employment opportunities to individuals in recovery from an addiction.

But Rob had to be convinced the concept would work financially. So the couple researched other businesses around the country that have as part of their missions to hire people in recovery. Rob says the challenge those companies so often faced was how to pay for on-site drug testing and counseling for the employees.

That’s when Rob got the inspiration – divine inspiration, he believes – to partner with local recovery centers like Chrysalis House and Isaiah House to let them provide the health and treatment services, while the Perezes would provide the employment opportunities.

Thanks to the generosity of benefactors who provided $250,000 in no-interest loans, and contractors who worked for free or steep discounts, the Perezes were able to build and open the new restaurant last summer. The name DV8 Kitchen comes from the hope that offering people in recovery a stable job will enable them to deviate from their previous lifestyles. The bakery and café on South Broadway in Lexington serves what it calls “life changing food” for breakfast and lunch.

“This business was designed to be able to handle a workforce that was in recovery,” Rob says. “We close at 3 so they can go home to do their recovery stuff… We also arrange for people to be able to have time to go and do the things that are court-mandated.”

Dan Rison says he reports to work by 6:30 so he can help prepare the café for the morning rush. Even though he’s sweeping floors and making coffee, Rison says he’s grateful for the opportunity to work.

“This job provides a stable environment for somebody who is looking to build a new track record,” Rison says. “They come to work here [and] they’re able to build trust again with coworkers, with employers, with the guests who come here to eat.”

Help Society and Give People Hope
The goal of DV8 Kitchen is to have a third of its staff be second-chance employees. Diane Perez says she’d rather hire people in recovery because they’re more dependable and are eager for a job. In addition to providing a judgment-free workplace, the Perezes also invite local business leaders in to give weekly talks to the staff. One recent Tuesday featured an investment advisor explaining the basics of personal finance.

The concept of fast-casual dining combined with the social good of supporting people in recovery seems to be a hit among patrons.

“The food is phenomenal,” says customer Andrew Eaton, who praises the café’s biscuits and gravy as well as its employees, who he says deserve a second chance.

“I don’t have to know their history,” says Eaton. “I don’t want them to be defined by their history. I want them to be defined by the relationship we can have as members of the same community.”

Unfortunately not every DV8 story ends happily. Rob Perez says they lost two of their best cooks who are now on the streets again. He says he loves them and prays for them, but he realizes that relapses are a potential hazard of hiring people in recovery.

“This business has shown me how to live,” Perez says. “I have a gigantic belly laugh everyday, and I have giant cry everyday.”

In addition to employing people in recovery, the café has also provided a safe haven for friends and family members of those who are still battling addiction. Perez says he often hears stories from patrons who have lost loved ones to substance abuse. Melissa Dean says her sister is an addict who has been in rehab countless times. She says one way she copes with those challenges is by volunteering to work at DV8.

“The more love and support and understanding and acceptance of people with addiction, the better off we are going to be,” Dean says. “The more chances we can give them in lifting them up, it’s just a win-win situation.”

At the end of the day, DV8 Kitchen is still a business that has to make money. Perez says the more financially successful they are, the more second-chance employees he can hire and the more he can pay them. But he also wants to ensure the business is also a success spiritually and socially. And Perez says he hopes to inspire other companies to follow in their footsteps and hire people who have had life challenges, whether that’s substance abuse, being a victim of the sex trades, or growing up in foster care.

“Our message really is use your business in a way that helps our society and helps people, that gives people hope,” Perez says.

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Season 13 Episodes

Marcie Timmerman - Mental Health and Wellness

S13 E43 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 08/24/18

Tiffany Manuel - Affordable Housing

S13 E42 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 08/17/18

Jessica Dueñas - 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year

S13 E41 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 08/10/18

2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book

S13 E37 Length 28:48 Premiere Date 07/13/18

A New Task Force on Opioids

S13 E36 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 07/06/18

Shining a Spotlight on Epilepsy

S13 E35 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 06/29/18

Criminal Justice Reform

S13 E34 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 06/22/18

Jay Box - Kentucky Community and Technical College

S13 E33 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 06/15/18

Interim Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis

S13 E32 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 06/08/18

Bob King - Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

S13 E31 Length 28:09 Premiere Date 06/01/18

Rachel Childress - Lexington Habitat for Humanity

S13 E30 Length 26:22 Premiere Date 05/25/18

2018 Kentucky Primary Races

S13 E29 Length 29:52 Premiere Date 05/18/18

Dr. Donna Grigsby

S13 E28 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 05/11/18

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention

S13 E27 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 05/04/18

Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks

S13 E25 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 04/20/18

Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard

S13 E24 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 04/13/18

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

S13 E23 Length 29:22 Premiere Date 04/06/18

Secretary Derrick Ramsey - Apprenticeships

S13 E22 Length 28:09 Premiere Date 02/23/18

Educational Innovation

S13 E21 Length 28:45 Premiere Date 02/16/18

Gerald Smith

S13 E20 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 02/09/18

Perry Bacon Jr.

S13 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 02/02/18

DV8 Kitchen

S13 E17 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 01/19/18

Silas House, New Novel

S13 E16 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 01/16/18

Tawanda Owsley

S13 E15 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 01/05/18

Sexual Harassment Issues

S13 E14 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 12/15/17

Disability Rates and Benefits

S13 E13 Length 27:27 Premiere Date 12/08/17

Good Samaritans

S13 E12 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 11/17/17

A Salute to Heroes

S13 E10 Length 26:18 Premiere Date 11/10/17

Legislative Health Policy

S13 E9 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 11/03/17

Elder Care

S13 E8 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 10/27/17

Preventing Youth Suicide

S13 E7 Length 28:17 Premiere Date 10/20/17

A Proposal for Pension Reform

S13 E6 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/13/17

Rethinking Pain Medication

S13 E5 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/06/17

Former Gov. Steve Beshear

S13 E4 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 09/29/17

Secretary Elaine Chao

S13 E3 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 09/22/17

Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

S13 E2 Length 29:32 Premiere Date 09/08/17

Author and Journalist Sam Quinones

S13 E1 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 09/01/17

Author and Journalist Sam Quinones

Preview Length 28:52 Premiere Date 09/01/17

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Premiered On: 01/19/2018

Renee visits DV8 Kitchen, a restaurant and bakery in Lexington that provides second chance employment opportunities for people in substance recovery who are trying to redirect their lives. She speaks with Rob and Diane Perez about their vision for the restaurant and its support from the community. Renee also talks with employees at the eatery to hear their stories of recovery and how DV8 Kitchen helps them.

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Premiered On: 04/06/2018

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Premiered On: 04/13/2018

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Premiered On: 04/20/2018

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  • Thursday January 5, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 5, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Dr. Donna Grigsby

Premiered On: 05/11/2018

Renee speaks with Lexington pediatrician Dr. Donna Grigsby about early childhood brain development and the impact of adverse childhood experiences on cognitive and physical health. Dr. Grigsby discusses how to develop literacy skills in young children.

  • Friday January 6, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Connections

  • Sunday January 8, 2023 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 11:00 am CT on KET
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday January 8, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KET2

Criminal Justice Reform - Cherise Fanno Burdeen

Premiered On: 06/22/2018

Cherise Fanno Burdeen, CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI), talks about her organization's mission to reduce incarceration rates and their efforts to reform the bail system.

  • Monday January 9, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday January 9, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Shining a Spotlight on Epilepsy

Premiered On: 06/29/2018

Renee speaks with filmmaker Tiffany Webb, whose documentary, Voice of the Epilepsies, chronicles the story of a young girl living with epilepsy and her family's determination to treat the seizure disorder. Webb also discusses her own experience of being diagnosed with epilepsy.

  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY
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Kayla Rae Whitaker - S12 E41

  • Friday December 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Walter Gilliam - S12 E40

  • Thursday December 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge - S12 E38

  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Patricia Peacock - S12 E30

  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Cory Jewell Jensen - S12 E18

  • Monday December 5, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 5, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel - S16 E31

  • Sunday December 4, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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David Thompson - S12 E11

  • Friday December 2, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 2, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Mitzi Sinnott - S12 E3

  • Thursday December 1, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 1, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf - S12 E2

  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Phil Wilkins - S11 E43

  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Tameka Montgomery - S11 E42

  • Monday November 28, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 28, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Dayna Seelig - S15 E12

  • Sunday December 4, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 4, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
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  • Saturday December 3, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 27, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dominique Wilkins - S11 E41

  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

UK President Eli Capilouto - S18 E6

  • Thursday November 24, 2022 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 11:00 pm ET on KET2
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Gary Tuggle - S11 E40

  • Thursday November 24, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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  • Thursday November 24, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Leana Wen - S11 E39

  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 10:29 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 9:29 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Terrence Walton - S11 E38

  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

  • Monday November 21, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Monday November 21, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

  • Sunday November 27, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 27, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday November 26, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 26, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Kimberly Johnson - S11 E36

  • Friday November 18, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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  • Friday November 18, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Jason Merrick - S11 E35

  • Thursday November 17, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 2:10 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 1:10 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 2:25 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 1:25 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Scott Hesseltine - S11 E32

  • Monday November 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

  • Sunday November 20, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday November 19, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 19, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

  • Friday November 25, 2022 11:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 9:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 6:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday November 25, 2022 5:30 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday November 12, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 12, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

  • Friday November 11, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 11, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

  • Thursday November 10, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kishonna Gray - S11 E29

  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Gretchen Hunt - S11 E28

  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Erin Frazier - S11 E27

  • Monday November 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
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