Above Image by Freepik

The mission is to create a bar without alcohol as an oasis for people in recovery and other sober-minded individuals to enjoy all kinds of social activities

Cookeville – Mike Gomez will be the first to tell you he is an alcoholic. He knew that from the first time he touched alcohol. It wasn’t a social thing. It was a means to an end. The end in question was, “to reach oblivion through excessive consumption”. Gomez said it was a disease, and that disease is why he decided to help others who struggle with the same addictions.

He came up with the idea of “SoBarity”, a bar without alcohol. The idea was to allow the gathering of a bar scene without the temptations of alcohol.

“I was born and raised in Miami, FL by wonderful parents and a loving and doting family,” said Gomez to the Upper Cumberland Business Journal (UCBJ). “There was not one good reason for me to feel like something was so wrong with my life that I would need to numb myself to get through adulthood, and yet that is what I did.”

Gomez says alcohol addiction kept him in a constant state of fear and hopelessness.

“This darkness led to behaviors that were outside of my nature,” said Gomez. “Contrary to popular belief, consistent overindulgence in alcohol (or any drug) causes a shift in mind and spirit. It does not ‘bring out our true selves’ as so many believe.”

It was those shifts that led him to rethink his life. He knew if he wanted to live, he would have to seek help.

So he entered a recovery program.

“We celebrate our sober anniversaries as birthdays,” said Gomez. “Because when we get sober is when we truly start living life as God intended. It has been an amazing journey and has allowed me to repair relationships with my family, children and friends.”

Gomez said clarity, and GOD’s guidance, have allowed him to spread the message of hope to others. He calls the meetings “SoBarity meetings”, and soon he wants to ad brick and mortar to the message.

“My ultimate goal is to have a brick-and-mortar location to serve as an oasis for people in recovery and other sober-minded individuals to enjoy all kinds of social activities,” said Gomez. “From live shows to trivia night and open mic events to theme nights and holiday parties, bachelor and bachelorette parties, baby showers and rehearsal dinners. This location would be open most nights and provide a place for anyone who is in doubt about whether they are suffering from addiction to come and find other like-minded individuals and begin to form a support network.”

Games – SoBarity hopes to feature billiards, darts and other activities. Image by gpointstudio on Freepik.

In the meantime, Gomez is holding smaller meetings to spread the word. “SoBarity meetings” have been hosted at businesses throughout Cookeville including Plenty on Spring, Jamie’s Eats and Sweets and Glass Tangerine.

“These pop-up events have been a great deal of fun and served to spread the word about what I am trying to achieve while showing customers that drinking and socializing can be fun without the use of alcohol,” said Gomez.

The idea was not a solo proposition. It was a mesh of many minds coming together for a singular purpose.

“The original idea for SoBarity came from speaking with other friends in recovery from alcohol and drugs about how there is a lack of social activities without the presence of alcohol,” said Gomez. “If we wanted to shoot pool, watch a live band, sing karaoke, participate in a trivia night or just go dancing, it seemed that the only places that offered these activities also served alcohol.”

He said the temptations are real when battling the disease of addiction. The solution was there, and Gomez flushed it out.

“A “sober bar” would allow folks to indulge in these activities in a safe environment free of temptation, triggers, and the atmosphere created by intoxicated patrons which can sometimes be a deterrent to the recovering alcoholic or addict,” he said.

There has been no official location named.

There is no timeframe for an opening, but the vision has never been clearer.

“I would like the bar to be located in Cookeville, as I feel that it is centrally located and easily accessible for anyone traveling from other counties or cities,” said Gomez of a possible brick-and-mortar location for SoBarity. “Also, with Cookeville being a college town, it would give underage college students somewhere to hang out where they don’t have to worry about being over 21.

Gomez wants to take his time and do things right so everyone who needs SoBarity can use it. He wants a lot of space for parking, plenty of room for indoor activities, a dining area and an area outside for outdoor games and activities.

He says feedback has been amazing, and not just from the recovery community, but from the entire community.

“The feedback has greatly exceeded my expectations,” said Gomez. “I suspected that the recovery community would be excited to have a place they can enjoy and feel relaxed and safe. However, the feedback from folks that are not in the recovery community has been a welcome surprise. Apparently, there seems to be a good portion of the local community that would love a space that offers an alternative to alcohol when socializing. People seem very excited to see what’s in store for SoBarity.”

Gomez’s mission was one discovered in his darkest hours, but it is a mission he wants to share.

“I feel that my mission in life is to stay sober by helping others find a new way to live,’ said Gomez. “Sobriety does not have to be boring or mundane by any means. We are not a glum lot, and I hope to demonstrate that by creating an environment that promotes social gatherings absent of any substances that alter the mind from its purest form.”

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