Brandon Chrostowski opened up a French restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, but instead of hiring experienced staff, he decided to try something that other employers would never dream of: hiring ex-offenders.Edwins opened up in 2013 and has a record of its own. The fine dining establishment is one of the few in the entire United States that boasts a majority of former criminals as its staff.
Brandon gives each person who comes through the doors a six-month rotation. The skills that they learn and the experience that they gain has allowed 90% of them to find permanent employment elsewhere. He feels that everyone should be given a second chance in life, not just written off as soon as they have served time.
I was a reckless teenager, and one night, I was arrested and thrown in jail,” Brandon explained. “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 the kitchen, I knew that’s where I belonged for the rest of my life.”
Each person who walks through the door receives weekly payments and tips from diners, working 40 to 50 hours a week. When Brandon realized that his students didn’t have consistent, affordable housing, he built a dormitory for them.
Edwins is a family. There’s a spirit 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.”
Establishing a stable environment for former offenders to get back on their feet does society a lot of good, and seeing that his former students haven’t re-offended since their time at the restaurant, we’d say he’s got a good thing going.
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