Cleveland is known for its rich culinary experience. Friday night, a new French-inspired restaurant will open its doors. Of course, there will be a focus on the food, but the philosophy is about second chances.
It's two hours until opening. The staff of Edwins is setting up for the first customer, the first fork used and the first course ever served.
But tonight is not about firsts. It's about seconds. Second chances.
"At a time in my life when I was searching, which usually ended up in trouble, that's what I found, to finding my way to be productive and, eventually, a career, that's how it all began," says Brandon Chrostowski, owner of Edwins Restaurant and Institute.
Chrostowski is now an accomplished chef, sommelier and restaurant manager, but never forgot his troubled past. He wanted to give others the same second chance, giving them training most people gain in France or New York City.
"I teach in two prisons, so working closely with the state, so I go into Grafton in pre-release and teach this trade," says Chrostowski, "So, that's one source of our students. And from that spilling over is local judges."
The Edwin Institute program is no cake walk. Students are in class for 9 hours a day. learn culinary math, history of cuisine, and how to determine wines and cheeses geographically by taste, among other lessons.
"We had people quit because it was difficult for them. Myself, I wanted to but I can't see myself doing it," says student, Alvin Harris.
Harris will be serving on opening night. But he also knows how to bartend and manage a restaurant.
And even though he says he can't imagine quitting, there was a point in his life, he says he never imagined himself here.
"I feel so good about myself. I take a lot of pride coming in here, looking good, making the restaurant look good," says Harris.
Edwins Restaurant is a non-profit. It's located in Shaker Square and is now open for business.