At Edwins Restaurant in Ohio, students receive the tools they need to start fresh in life and succeed as chefs.
Everybody deserves a second chance. Unfortunately, ex-offenders have a more difficult time than most starting anew due to their record. Thankfully, certain initiatives exist to help those who, at one point or another, may have made a few poor decisions.
One such program is run by Brandon Chrostowski, the owner of Edwins Restaurant located in Ohio. Not only does Chrostowski’s establishment serve high-end French cuisine, it gives ex-convicts a second chance at crafting a trade and starting a new life.
At Edwins Restaurant, nearly everyone on staff is an ex-convict. The program runs as a non-profit and serves to teach students valuable skills which might improve their chances of getting hired in the future.
Chrostowski molded the business this way because at one point, he was given a similar second chance when he was young.
He told CNN:
“I was a reckless teenager, and one night, I was arrested and thrown in jail. Fortunately, I had a judge who gave me a break instead of 10 years in prison. While I was on probation, I met a chef who mentored me –and once I was in that kitchen, I knew that’s where I belonged for the rest of my life.”
During the day, workers are given intensive culinary training and lectures involving wine education and food prep. And in the evening, the staff put the lessons into action and cook for actual customers.
New employees receive about 40-50 hours of training each week for six months. Students receive a weekly stipend, as well as a portion of the tips left by satisfied diners.
In addition, a full-time caseworker assists them with housing, counseling, and/or getting a driver’s license. It’s not easy re-acclimating into society, but the tools offered through this initiative make it a much more bearable process.
And, of course, the program has an astonishing success rate. According to Chrostowski, 114 students have graduated, and more than 90% of them are employed. So far, none of them have returned to prison.
Notes the entrepreneur and philanthropist:
“Edwins is a family. There’s a spirit in here where we’re in this together. To have a second chance is to have a new life. And if you’re ready to work hard, you can change the stars.”
By equipping people with the tools and support they need to succeed, amazing things can result.
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