EDWINS owner offers $250 in exchange for guns

There have been 68 homicides in Cleveland so far this year—nearly a 20% increase over the same period last year. June began with five gun-related homicides in a 36-hour period. 

EDWINS Leadership Restaurant and Institute founder and recent James Beard Award finalist Brandon Chrostowski is fed up with the uptick in gun violence in Cleveland. So, he came up with a solution for getting guns off Cleveland’s streets:

For every gun that is turned in to EDWINS, Chrostowski is offering $250. The money can be used at the any of the EDWINS locations—at the Shaker Square flagship restaurant or at EDWINS Too or at the Buckeye butcher shop and bakery. If the entire $250 is not spent, a gift card will be issued for the remaining balance.

“It’s a bigger picture than just us,” says Chrostowski. “The idea is handguns are the new currency—especially in the areas we serve.”

Chrostowski’s plan seems to be an effective one. Last Friday, the first day he launched his guns for credit initiative, the first gun was turned in. Later that day, a second person turned in a gun. By yesterday afternoon, Monday, June 19, Chrostowski says 12 guns have been turned in. His goal is to get 100 guns off Cleveland streets by the end of July.

Chrostowski says everyone who turns in a gun remains anonymous and the guns are stored in a locked safe. Guns collected are turned in daily to the Cleveland Police Department Fourth District.

Chrostowski says he wants this program to become a trend that others also embrace. “The goal is to get handguns off the streets,” he says. “We have to get other businesses, or even the government, to [allow people] to trade in their guns for rent or groceries—make them currency.”

The EDWINS program does have several financial backers, Chrostowski says, but it will take a city-wide effort to make the concept work.

“This project takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it a city-wide investment—to make guns currency,” he says. “To truly make it successful it will take many partners. It costs $55,000 to treat one gunshot wound, and if you’re shot between the ages of six and 16, you’re 30% more likely to come back with another gun shot. So, what’s $250 to get a gun off the streets?”

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.