CLEVELAND - When EDWINS, a new eatery in trendy Shaker Square, opens Nov. 1, it will fulfill a 10-year dream.
Brandon Chrostowski is an accomplished chef who has been trained by some of the best in the culinary business and worked at some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world.
The sommelier and former GM of L'Albatros has created something new in the dining scene. He has also created a learning environment for previously incarcerated citizens returning to the community.
EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to give the returning citizens a foundation in the hospitality industry while providing a support network necessary for successful re-entry to life outside prison.
Everyone from servers to bartenders to those in the kitchen are men and women who have served time in prison. They are taking part in a six-month program to give them experience in the restaurant industry.
"I used to take people out of prison when I was running another restaurant in Cleveland and it shot to the top in three or four years," said Chrostowski. "Men and women with a criminal record are already operating in fine dining - you just don't know it, " added Chrostowski.
"He's definitely changing lives," said Dion Williams from behind the restaurant's bar. Williams worked in the medical field before going to prison for nearly 12 years. Once he served his time and came home he couldn't get a job. That's why Williams said he got involved in the program.
For Chrostowski it's about giving back because someone once gave him a second change. "I had a brush with the law, served a short time in county jail," said Chrostowski. "I had a gracious judge in Michigan, then I found a chef who became my mentor," added Chrostowski.
Chrostowski said the restaurant business saved his life. Now he is on a mission to save others.
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