Ever since EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute founder Brandon Chrostowski first opened EDWINS restaurant in 2013 on Shaker Square, he has had his eye on expanding food and services in the area, as well as helping the formerly incarcerated hone their culinary and foodservice expertise for careers in the restaurant industry.
Chrostowski has certainly expanded over the past eight years and continues to train and employ an ever-growing group of culinary students and graduates. He has now graduated 502 students—25 of whom remain employed by EDWINS—and has groups of new students regularly enroll in the EDWINS program while still in prison.
Sixteen students are currently enrolled in the EDWINS program, with another class starting on Oct. 25, as well as the rollout of online classes for the incarcerated.
With the continued expansion, Chrostowski announced earlier this month that he is growing again—this time with the purchase of another house at 2914 South Moreland to expand student and alumni housing. “I’m always on the lookout for any property joining our campus,” he says. “This is a great investment in increasing our footprint and increasing our presence in the Buckeye neighborhood.”
2914 South MorelandThe seven-unit, 8,270-square-foot property will become part of the EDWINS Second Chance Life Skills Center and mirrors the housing unit at 2910 South Moreland Blvd., which is part of the 20,000-sqaure-foot campus with dormitories and training facilities on the corner of South Moreland Boulevard and Buckeye Road that opened in 2016.
Chrostowski purchased the building for $320,000 and he says it will require minimal investment in things like some tuckpointing and interior painting.
“This one is in very good condition,” he says, the dorm should be ready for occupancy later this fall.
The purchase was made possible in part by a three-year financial commitment from KeyBank. “Since its inception, EDWINS has provided hundreds of formerly incarcerated adults a foundation in the culinary and hospitality industry, and a support network necessary for their long-term success,” said KeyBank Northeast Ohio corporate responsibility officer Amanda Petrak in a statement. “We are proud to help facilitate this expansion of their efforts that change lives and help Northeast Ohio thrive.”
There are currently two families in the family housing on campus and 22 individuals in the apartments, Chrostowski says. The new building features seven two-bedroom units that will house 14 to 21 tenants.
Chrostowski says the campus will definitely need an additional building in the next six months, at the rate EDWINS is growing.
Past growth in the last eight years included opening a Burcher Shop and Bakery on Buckeye Road in 2017 before expanding the campus with nearby family housing and EDWINS Too on Shaker Square in 2020.
The campus expansion comes on the heels of EDWINS’s curriculum roll out to 450,000 GTL tablets in prisons across the country. The EDWINS online curriculum presents gastronomy; culinary math; menu prep; ServSafe certification exam preparation; front of house training, which includes drink preparation and bartending; and back of house training, which includes food selection and preparation.
As participants complete the program, they earn a culinary degree and are invited, post-incarceration, to enroll at EDWINS for an intensive six-month culinary arts education and training program. For out-of-state participants who wish to relocate to Cleveland to complete the in-person coursework and live rent-free at the Second Chance Life Skills Center, the Cleveland Browns are sponsoring travel scholarships for the first cohort.