New Minneapolis restaurant offers ex-prisoners a second chance

It's staffed entirely by the formerly incarcerated.
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Mayor Jacob Frey and founder Emily Turner open All Square on Saturday.

Mayor Jacob Frey and founder Emily Turner open All Square on Saturday.

A restaurant with a difference opened up in Minneapolis on Saturday, one staffed exclusively by former prison inmates.

Fittingly called "All Square," the restaurant offers craft grilled cheese sandwiches cooked up by the recently incarcerated, who are being given a second chance to get back on their feet.

It's the brainchild of Minneapolis civil rights attorney Emily Turner, with the restaurant at 4047 Minnehaha Avenue being officially opened on Saturday by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Describing itself as a social enterprise as well as a craft grilled cheese restaurant, its website says: "Our name refers to the shape of our sandwiches and communicates the notion that those who have paid their debts to society are ALL SQUARE and free to move forward with a clean slate."

Formerly imprisoned individuals who are returning to the community can be taken on by All Square, where they will undergo a 12-month training program as they serve up grilled cheese to customers.

With former inmates also on the organization's Board of Directors, All Square says its program has been put together by people with experience of prison and the criminal justice system.

"We believe the contours of re-entry programs must be shaped by those who understand its pragmatic and historic roots," it says.

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Speaking to WCCO on Saturday, Turner said: "These are family, friends, neighbors who we are welcoming back into the community and being real with them that we want to support them."

"That’s a very real part of what we are trying to do here is talk about real things in a real way."

It's open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, and by "craft grilled cheese," this is what they mean.

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