“The short story is: we're helping to open a restaurant set up just like Edwins
, but for the recovery community not the reentry community,” says Brandon Chrostowski, that Shaker Square-based nonprofit’s founder.
Chrostowski says that he was approached by Medina County Common Pleas Court judges Christopher J. Collier and Joyce V. Kimbler with an idea that they believed could significantly disrupt recovery in a few very positive ways. Working in tandem with the county’s drug court, the Medina County Recovery Center offers resources, support and job training, all of which is at a high standard of excellence.
“The nonprofit Medina County Recovery Center was formed with a very passionate board, many of whom have lost loved ones to drugs,” Chrostowski notes. “What they’ve been doing there already has been amazing. I’m just fine-tuning it.”
The next rung in the recovery ladder will be a restaurant and training center that takes an unconventional approach to recovery. The groundbreaking tactic to tackling the opioid epidemic will be centered inside the walls of the former Medina Steak and Seafood (538 W. Liberty St.), a historic structure that was leased by the County and already has been the site of daily recovery meetings since summer. When Sérénité Restaurant: Recovery and Culinary Institute opens, it should look, feel and taste somewhat familiar to fans of Edwins.
“It’s almost identical to Edwins – it’s a nonprofit restaurant and training program – with the fundamental differences being that it’s for recovery and it’s delivered through a brasserie,” says Chrostowski.
Programs will run eight months, longer and more intensive than at Edwins. In addition to the restaurant part of the equation, there will be considerable support in areas such as housing, vocational education, addiction education and job placement.
Serious and lengthy debate was held over the topic of alcohol, explains Chrostowski, with the board finally landing on a course of action.
“This will be run like a normal restaurant, the difference is diners will be asked if they'd like to be seated in a drinking or non-drinking section,” he says. “There will be no liquor exposed or displayed as a trophy. Yes, we can open a rock-star restaurant without serving cocktails, but what does that say to those in recovery, that you’re inept? That you can never work in this industry? No, we want to teach these skills in an environment that's supportive.”
Chrostowski also is quick to point out that Sérénité isn't a person’s first step in recovery; this is for somebody who is further along in their recovery and is interested in sowing the seeds of a great career in the culinary field.
The historic structure, one of the oldest in town, will open in six to eight weeks as a 60-seat approachable French brasserie with a menu not unlike L’Albatros or New York’s Balthazar. Gilbert Brenot will serve as executive chef and Michael Flaherty as general manager. Both, incidentally, are Edwins alums.
There will be no changes at Edwins.
For those in recovery who might be interested in this or other avenues of support, the Medina Recovery Center (538 W. Liberty St.) holds open houses at 2 p.m. on Fridays.