Ever since Brandon Chrostowski opened EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute on Shaker Square in 2013, he has had his eye on bigger things for both his graduates and the Buckeye neighborhood.
This month, Chrostowski will take a second big step forward in that vision when he opens EDWINS Butcher Shop on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 13024 Buckeye Road, just steps from the $1.3 million EDWINS Second Change Life Skills Center campus he opened in 2016.
Chrostowski bought a 3,300-square-foot building in early 2017, a space he had been eyeing for either a butcher shop or fish market. Construction started on the $1.1 million project in July, and today his team is adding the finishing touches.
The butcher shop will not only teach EDWINS graduates—former inmates in Ohio prisons who are making a new start in the restaurant and food service industry—the skills of butchering a whole animal, but also provide meats, vegetables, and even spices to a neighborhood classified as a food desert and in need of an economic boost.
“Little by little, [we’re getting there]. A promise is a promise,” says Chrostowski of his dedication to both Buckeye’s revitalization and helping to revive the dying art of butchering a whole animal. Adds Chrostowski, “Walk in the back door of any restaurant and tell me how much butchering they’re doing—very little.”
EDWINS Butcher Shop will give some his graduates a leg up for employment. Small groups of EDWINS students will undergo an intensive 60-hour butcher training program led by Travis Gunter, EDWINS head butcher and butcher at Urban Farmer. The program will teach meat cutting, from breaking down whole sides to the finer art of making chops.
“This just gives our graduates another edge to know this craft,” Chrostowski explains. “There’s so little emphasis on butchery in restaurants these days, even in big cities.”
The butcher shop will supply the EDWINS restaurant will all its meat needs, as well as sell cuts of meat to the public—from Wagyu beef to Eckrich bologna and everything in between (including lamb, pork, beef, chickens, duck, and Cornish hens).
"We’ll be priced affordably with a couple of different price points that everyone can take part in,” promises Chrostowski. "We’ll take all forms of payment, from EBT to American Express. It’s important to make sure no one ever feels unwelcome in our store.”
And the cuts of meat EDWINS will offer will make any carnivore drool. “We’ll have any classic cut of meat—New York strip, dry-aged Kansas City strip, leg of lamb, bone-in chuck roast,” Chrostowski says, adding that meat will be sourced both locally from places like Chardon-based New Creation Farm and from around the world.
In addition to meat, EDWINS Butcher Shop will sell fresh root vegetables. “We even have a vegetable butcher, so if you’re making stew, we’ll cut your vegetables for free,” Chrostowski says.
The shop will also carry risottos and other pastas, sauces, a variety of hard-to-find spices and rubs, snacks, and drinks. Chrostowski even plans on selling growlers filled with both local and mainstream beers from around the world.
For those who’d prefer to have their food made for them, EDWINS will carry a full menu, with meats cooked in the two smokers outside the back of the shop. Chrostowski says he’ll serve up classic Southern cuisine. Think maple bacon, turkey Reubens, ribs, classic bologna, brisket, and rotisserie chicken (or, as Chrostowski puts it, “whatever meat we have [that] we can put between bread”). Served with the meat and sandwiches will be macaroni and cheese, greens, baked beans, green beans, and okra—depending on what’s in season.
All the food will be served up in a renovated dining and service area designed by Elicia Gibbon, project manager with Beachwood-based C.C. Hodgson Architectural Group. The design pays homage to the 1930 building, with original exposed brick; lime green walls; French prints of animals and the different cuts of meat; stainless steel and white subway tile; and wood and glass display cases filled with gourmet jams, sauces, beans, and chiles. Sausages will hang from a pipe over the service counter.
Larry Harris and Alex Brown of Harris Construction served as the general contractors. “They did a great job,” Chrostowski says. “These guys got it done. This group is Cleveland proud.”
EDWINS Butcher Shop will be open seven days a week, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.