A French restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, is giving ex-offenders a recipe for success.
Edwins is an upscale restaurant, one of the most popular in the city. But it provides more than just a place to have a fancy dinner. It gives hope to ex-cons. During the day, the employees have cooking classes, and during evenings they work.
This project is managed by Brandon Chrostowski, a chef, and veteran of elite restaurants in Chicago, New York, and Paris. He recognizes that the stigma surrounding ex-cons is setting them up to repeat their mistakes.
Chrostowski's inspirational story
When you come to Edwins to look for a job, checking that little box that says "felon" actually gives you an advantage.
The owner explained that he was a wild child and that people deserve second chances. As Chortowski said:
"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."
The non-profit program gives felons 40-50 hours of training each week for six months. The owner claims that's enough to prepare everyone willing to work for a great job.
Who knows, perhaps the next big name of culinary arts is just now taking classes and getting ready to take over the world.
Students get a weekly stipend and a portion of the donations left by visitors as tips.
A caseworker helps those who ended their sentence with everything, from housing, and counseling, to getting a driver's license.
After having over 114 successful students Chrostowski is proud that 90 percent now have regular, full-time jobs.
"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."
Check out this restaurant's story below, and never stop believing in second chances!