MEDINA, OH (WOIO) - There's a new restaurant in Medina serving up fine French food, and second chances.
Sérénité opens its doors to the public Thursday. And it's staffed, not by experienced French chefs and fine dining servers, but by people going through recovery from substance abuse.
The program was developed, and is run by the people who created Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute, the Shaker Square cooking school that trains and employs ex-offenders.
They say no matter where you come from or what you like to eat that this is food for the soul.
In the days leading up to the public opening, the team from Sérénité prepares to launch a project that will help those in recovery get back on track, by running the new Medina Brasserie.
"It's been busy. But it's been worth all the hard work. We're learning a lot. We're being certified in all sorts of things that we'd normally have to pay for, but we're being paid instead to get these certificates," said Michelle Scardigli, who is five months clean and 4 weeks in to the program.
People like Michelle feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.
"I'm doing everything that I'm supposed to do, so it's really good being in an environment where that's even more promoted and everybody else is doing what I'm doing and I don't have to hide it," she said.
"If I have any kind of issues I've got plenty of people here I can go talk to and not feel judged about anything," said Robbie Naylor.
He is a year and ten months sober and grateful for his second chance, after a drug habit, and a criminal record, made it hard to get a job.
"That just tore everything down in my life, so I'm starting over again," he said.
"The idea was to redefine recovery give somebody in recovery an option for services. It's not just one size fits all. We know that," said founder, Brandon Chrostowski.
The restaurant is in the same building as the Recovery Center of Medina County. That's also the classroom space. Chrostowski says students spend eight months in their program, adjusted from the Edwins model, for the different set of obstacles those in recovery face.
"It's continual contact, and making sure we're in touch with them even more often than maybe at Edwins, and most importantly continual pressure. Are you going to meetings? Who is your sponsor and how are you communicating?"
The restaurant is funded by public and private money, and backed by local drug court judges, tired of seeing the same people over and over again.
The program is currently serving a dozen students. And they're starting a new class in two months.