Breaking News
More () »

'It feels amazing' | How a Charlotte chef went from being homeless to a successful restauranteur

Chef Sam Diminich says he couldn't have opened "Restaurant Constance" without his sobriety and family's support.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte chef is celebrating the opening of his new restaurant in Wesley Heights and looking back on the journey that got him here.

Before Sam Diminich became an accomplished chef with a resume that includes winning on the cooking show "Beat Bobby Flay" and being the executive chef of the former Upstream Restaurant in SouthPark, he struggled with addiction and homelessness. 

Today, he is more than eight years sober and has opened "Restaurant Constance," which prides itself in elevating locally sourced ingredients. 

"It feels amazing," Diminich told WCNC Charlotte. "This is probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my life."  

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

There was a point in time when Diminich never thought he’d realize these dreams or even make it at all. 

"It was either accept help," he shared, "or I honestly felt like my life was in danger."

Battling with addiction, he sought treatment and got sober in 2014. Shortly after, he rediscovered his love for cooking and reconnected with his children. 

"They welcomed me back with open arms," Diminich said about his son and daughter.

Now, Diminich’s new restaurant is an ode to his family. He said he promised himself if he was ever able to open his own spot, he'd name it after his daughter, Constance.

Credit: Peter Taylor Photography

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, just download the free app.

Constance was away at college during the opening night but is always at the restaurant in spirit. Diminich pointed to where several vinyl records are hung up and said, "much of the music she and I love is on the wall.” 

What’s helped the chef become successful, he said, is support, sobriety, and service.  

From the tableware to the food – everything in Restaurant Constance is sourced locally, supporting small businesses and farms. 

Credit: Peter Taylor Photography

"Service is what we’re taught in recovery, you know, get out of yourself and into service," Diminich added. 

He is also the Charlotte chapter leader of Ben’s Friends – helping people in the hospitality industry find sobriety. 

Restaurant Constance is fully booked for its opening weekend. 

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Before You Leave, Check This Out