James Beard finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur opens the EDWINS Family Center
CLEVELAND, May 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Brandon Chrostowski, founder and head chef of EDWINS Leadership Restaurant and Institute, has opened EDWINS Family Center, a free childcare center located just one block away from the facility, providing easy access and pick-up for families.
EDWINS Family Center will provide free, high-quality childcare to children of formerly incarcerated adults in a safe, stable, and caring environment. The Family Center was made possible with more than $400,000 from individuals and foundation donations for renovations. The Center received its Provisional license to operate a childcare center from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The Center will be able to accommodate up to 22 children from infancy to age 11.
“The opening of our Family Center has been a long time coming and is the single most important element of care we have offered since providing housing in 2015,” Chrostowski said. “We lose nearly 80 percent of students who begin our program that have children. It’s not a true second chance until someone has all avenues of their world supported to be able to learn and live and at the end of the day. At EDWINS, you can have a record, a family, and the opportunity to chase your dreams. This Family Center was a huge victory for our program, yet we’re still just getting started on the fight to inspire, educate, and create fair and equal opportunities for returning citizens in our industry.”
There are very few childcare centers that offer care conducive to the working hours of the hospitality industry, preventing many parents from finding reliable places for their children to stay while at work. Families living at the poverty line, like most reentering society, spend 35 percent of their monthly income on childcare, which is not sustainable or affordable.
Chrostowski is a finalist for the 2023 James Beard Awards for Outstanding Restaurateur. This award category recognizes a “restaurateur who uses their establishment(s) as a vehicle for building community, demonstrates creativity in entrepreneurship and integrity in restaurant operations, and is making efforts to create a sustainable work culture, while contributing positively to their broader community.” The ceremony is June 5.
The opening of EDWINS Family Center, combined with the James Beard award nomination, further solidifies that what Chrostowski is doing is making a real, tangible difference in the industry.
EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute provides formerly incarcerated adults with a foundation in the culinary and hospitality industries and the support network necessary for long-term success. Founded by Brandon E. Chrostowski, a 2016 CNN Hero and 2020 IFMA Silver Plate honoree, the Cleveland-based training program ensures that participants are equipped with basic culinary skills from its fine French eatery, Butcher Shop and Bakery & Diner, and sister restaurant, Edwins Too. Employment assistance, as well as free housing, legal services, basic medical care, clothing, job coaching, literacy programs and more are offered. As the subject of the 2018 Academy Award nominated documentary, Knife Skills, EDWINS graduates nearly 100 students a year, with a 95% employment rate and less than 1% recidivism.