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GamingIamA Programmer who got laid off 1.5yrs ago and am releasing my 4th game on Steam today! AMA!

Jan 27th 2017 by BrickRoadDX • 7 Questions • 84 Points

Last week I brought Marco Rubio a spine to replace the one he lost when he voted to confirm Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Today the Senate will be holding a hearing and possibly voting on Tillerson’s nomination. Sadly the spine and I will be working from my office at Greenpeace for this one.

I’m also an attorney, and spent several hours at Dulles International Airport yesterday volunteering my services for detainees affected by Trump’s executive order. AMA!

The spine in the news:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliareinstein/prop-comedy-is-back

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/greenpeace-marco-rubio-spine_us_588766fde4b0e3a7356bbf63

http://www.spin.com/2017/01/this-is-how-you-own-a-politician/

http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/316134/someone-offers-marco-rubio-a-spine-after-his-vote-for-rex-tillerson/

Reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/5psio3/someone_is_holding_a_spine_next_to_marco_rubio/

Proof: http://imgur.com/a/kisuS

https://twitter.com/greenpeaceusa/status/826175178875006976

Q:

Are you making a living wage?

A:

Hi, how was it to be a prisoner during that time? How did you deal with everything mentally when the war was over?


Q:

Why do you think the food service industry is more willing to give people a second chance? I feel like many other industries are not as open to hiring people who are trying to get back in the workforce.

A:

did you make eye contact with him?


Q:

That's the interesting thing! There are absolutely two sides to this equation, and I think people mainly tend to think about "income".

"Expenses" are oftentimes much more within your sphere of influence, so it can help to also consider these when trying to "make a living" pursuing a passion.

Point being, yeah, I live off making games full time now, but not because I've been wildly successful income-wise!

A:

"I went through everything. Hunger, thirst, cold, heat. Th worst thing was home sickness, with 17 1/2. Only after two years were we allowed to write our parents. They didn't know where I was for two years. I had to work for what the Germans did to the Russian people. We worked four years for that without receiving the pay that they told us we'd get after we would be released. The Russians told us at least that it would be kept for what the Germans did to the Russian people."

"I didn't talk about it at all afterwards. Only some rare times." (Nowadays he talks about it some more though).


Q:

This industry is more forgiving, they are looking for people who work hard, they want people who show up and they are hiring. Its the perfect opportunity for people to have a second chance

A:

He made eye contact with me, and with the spine.


Q:

Good for you. Your games must be good if you're making an actual living developing them.

A:

Was the news of Hitler's alleged suicide a feeling of relief or despair?

You say that you believed in the war effort, but at the same time you had to see the momentum shifting in the waning months of the war toward the Allied powers. I'm curious if German soldiers were starting to lose their morale and wanted the war to just be over, knowing that Hitler's death or a Wunderwaffe was the only way to achieve this.


Q:

Have you ever had a problem with the people you have employed. If not, have you had a problem with customers viewing your restaurant?

A:

Did it send chills down his sp.......wait, he doesn't have one.


Q:

Thanks!

A:

About Hitlers suicide he says: "Then we knew that the war was over and that we had lost it. It was more of a feeling relief." He mentions the assassination attempt of Stauffenberg and says: "It was really a shame that it didn't work. If that assassination had worked, then a lot of things would have been better." It was his opinion back then already as well.

Him and the other soldiers believed in the war until the last days. THey believed in the Wunderwaffe, there was not a loss of morale in a way.


Q:

Nothing outside of what you would encounter in a normal restaurant, in fact we probably have less. Our biggest issues are more finding ways to help our students overcome their issues more then incidents taking place at the restaurant.

A:

He looked confused, and then mildly alarmed.


Q:

Is this a disguised advertisement, or do you genuinely want to answer questions?

A:

What does he believe would have happened if they won?

How does he view his time serving his country now?


Q:

Can you serve alcohol at your restaurant? If so, are there any challenges w/ your employees?

A:

How many detainees did you personally speak with?


Q:

I'm going to keep answering all the questions as long as people have them! I really like interacting with people who need a kick start to get their own projects going.

A:

"Many more soldiers would have had to stay in combat and in Russia." He doesn't talk about other things that would or could have happened in Germany.

"I wasted five years of my youth there." He is very negative about it now, obviously.


Q:

Yes, we can definitely serve alcohol. If someone is doing a 12-step program or something similar they don't necessarily have to work behind the bar. They are required to know the spirits but they don't have to be around the spirits.

A:

Customs and Border Patrol is refusing to allow attorneys to speak with detainees. In violation of the court order.


Q:

way to dodge the first question

A:

Good morning! Thanks for taking your time to answer questions. What was your daily routine as a POW? Do you remember ever feeling a sense of "normalcy" during your time as a POW?


Q:

How do you find former inmates for your staff—do they come to you through a referral program or do you post the jobs online, or...something else?

Also, congratulations! Rehabilitation and restoration of people who have criminal backgrounds is a special passion of mine and I love stories like yours!

A:

A T-Rex?


A:

"We had to work for 8 hours a day in 3 shifts. We couldn't do much in our free time and were just happy to lay down and rest. From time to time i could help out at the theatre in the camp and moved the backgrounds. There were also some real actors.

Especially Paul Streckfuß (Note: who became an actor in the GDR after the war) was a good friend of mine during that time, but he was more of a regisseur director in the camp and he was a true communist. He also was the negotiator for the german prisoners, despite being a prisoner himself. When the actors practiced or had a show, they would get extra food from the kitchen afterwards, which i got too, as i was helping them.

The food was basically the same every day for months. It was mainly white cabbage soup.

We got loose tobaco once a week which was smoked with the "Pravda", the russian newspaper. I always exchanged it for bread though and i didn't smoke a single cigarette in my life"


Q:

There are a number of different routes. We teach in prison, have connections with local judges, parole officers, etc. We also get good responses from our stories and features in the media.

A:

The plastic spine I held up.


Q:

What's the hardest part a out designing a game?

A:

Hello,

Could he tell us more about the propaganda that went around the time that made him believe it was the right thing to do? Also what gave the soldiers hope towards the end of the war? How was it to come back in Germany? How much did it all change?


Q:

What has been the reaction around Cleveland with you hiring convicts at an upscale restaurant?

A:

Are you going to now start following him around with a pair of truck nuts?


Q:

I think the hardest part is knowing how to strike the balance to sticking with your own internal philosophy of what makes a good game, and incorporating feedback from play-testers and your audience. This is absolutely not an issue exclusive to games, and happens in all kinds of art, like movies, tv, books, whatever.

Both are incredibly valuable sources of design knowledge and wisdom, and its often not at all obvious which you should listen to more.

If you don't have a philosophy of game design already, then you should start by playing a ton of games, and asking yourself the very specific question "do I like this?" for very small elements of the design (how the health bar functions, how long turns take, how many actions the player has available to them, etc).

A:

About the Propaganda he says: " As a 16 year old, you can believe in a lot. I was in the Hitlerjugend, in the Jungvolk. We did excercises on training grounds. Also when we got a new gymnasium, Göring was there for the inauguration and we all had to attend there. Back then we found it great, it gave us hope.".

About the hope of soldiers at the end of the war, he talked about it in another comment. There was a rumour of a secret weapon that would turn around the odds for the Germans in the war again."

About coming back and the drive back from the prisoners camp in Russia he says: "We were brought to Friedland. There was a camp for us where we got registered. From there we could take the train back home. All of it took a couple of days. I traveled with people from other camps as well. We were all very happy to be on the way back."


Q:

Very positive. We're the pride of #CLE. People have really embraced it and they're quite proud of what we've accomplished. We've received national recognition, which highlights how proud CLE is. More than $8 million has come through the doors. It's been a smashing success.

A:

ALSO: the Senate is about to hold a debate on confirming Rex Tillerson. Senate Democrats are trying to hold it up. Call your Senators and tell them to Reject Rex!


Q:

Do you do any marketing for your games? How do you attract potential buyers?

A:

What was the education in Jungvolk, HJ, etc...about? Did they ever focus so much on race theory and how Germans were the master-race, as is often said today by historians?

Did they push people to have kids very soon with girls, be promiscuous, with the idea of a Germany with high population? (Considering he had many kids, that may have had a part in it)


Q:

What has been the most negative experience you have had with an employee or applicant?

A:

Why is Rex Tillerson bad for the planet?


Q:

Tons! Lots of interfacing with YouTubers, Twitter, Key Giveaways, just did a community tournament. Basically anything and everything I can think of!

A:

They did talk about race theory and such things in the Hitlerjugend.

He went to a Wehrertüchtigungslager (paramilitary training camp) with 15. They had to learn how great the war is and had to crawl through a field with gas masks on, while it was raining. When they would come back to the shack which you were living in with 10 people, all their clothes were thrown on the floor from their lockers. Then they had to sort through all their clothes and after half an hour there was roll call and everything had to be clean. The supervisor came in with white gloves with which he checked all the doors and stuff for dust.

When he was a soldier there was this thing called Selbsterziehung (self-discipline). If someone stole, then everyone had to suffer from that. In the night the Holy spirit would come into the shack and the person who stole didn't know about it. He would get a blanket over his head and then his trousers would get dragged down. Then he'd get hit by the leather of a belt and afterwards get black boot polish rubbed on it. In the morning for the Roll call he had to be clean again then. This was called self-discipline.


Q:

Attitudes, mostly poor attitudes, coming in with a sense of entitlement.

A:

Rex Tillerson spent his entire career at ExxonMobil. His job was to find, extract, and burn carbon. Which, as everyone but this administration knows, causes climate change. Which is really bad for the planet. That's the short answer. There are many more reasons, ask away!


Q:

What language do you use?

A:

Good afternoon :-). I would like to know if your grandfather knew anything about the extermination camps and what was his response too it?

I know it is a emotionally difficult question. I am a Dutch guy living on the border with Germany and know many German people. The German side is often forgotten.. indoctrination is a thing that many people should read more about. And thank you for this AmA


Q:

Do you take reservations? I'll bring my clients next time I visit Cleveland for business.

A:

What was the best response you've gotten from your spine trolling?


Q:

C# with Unity. It's awesome!

A:

"We didn't know about it before and during the war. Even in Russia we didn't know about concentration camps. Only after the war we got informations about it." He is laughing a bit about the question what his response to it was since it is clear to him how wrong such things are.


Q:

Always, give us a call at 216.921.3333 or visit our website edwinsrestaurant.org

A:

Has to be this, which arrived in the mail: http://imgur.com/a/dX46u


Q:

Are there any aspects that are much easier than most would expect? What's the worst part? About how many hours do you work every day?

A:

Hi, what was your opinion of the war during that time? Like who did you think was right or wrong?


Q:

What were the most difficult obstacles to overcome in getting your business off the ground, and successful?

A:

I like that question a lot! Unity makes it much easier to port the game to different platforms than many people might expect. Just in general getting up and running in Unity is not as hard as it might seem.

The worst part is bearing the brunt of strong negative opinions at times. It wouldn't be so bad except in a curation-driven marketplace, rececption and perception is everything.

Hours worked varies a lot. In the months leading up to release I work quite a lot, much more than full time. I try to relax as much as I can during the "cool down" period a couple of weeks after a launch though. Up until the whole cycle starts up again!


Q:

"It was wrong but we did believe in it. Back then though, we didn't find it wrong. Back then there was the hope of a Wunderwaffe (wonder weapon) that would still win us the war. That was a rumour going around. My view changed when I was a prisoner of war. Then I realized that it was wrong."

A:

All the obstacles have been great opportunities. The one in particular was raising capital. It took years but made great relationships.


Q:

Do you purposefully look like a laid off programmer or is that a coincidence?

A:

What was it specifically about being a prisoner of war that made you change your view? Were you just given the bigger picture by the guards etc.?


Q:

What reaction did you usually got when you told someone about your idea of starting this program?

A:

Game dev will do it to ya man.


Q:

" We got political education during my time as a prisoner of war. But there we were educated on the great things that communism does. I did everything that was asked from me. Hitler and the dictatorship, communism as a prisoner of war and afterwards democracy. Only when I came back from Russia did I see the good of democracy." He's having difficulties being able to describe what made him change his views and understanding the question. But he says: "First of all we lost the war. And then we saw how everything got better here in westgermany." So I guess that gave him a change of heart?

He became a prisoner of war on the day that Germany lost the war, so during his time in Russia he was always aware of that fact.

A:

You are a fucking idiot, or something similar to that.


Q:

Minos Strategies looks like a game that could be ported to mobile, have you considered mobile app gaming?

A:

Thank you for posting those pictures.

I had a good friend who was a German about your Opa's age during the war and was drafted into the labor army and later the anti-air auxiliary in Eastern Germany operating 20mm cannons. I like to imagine that somewhere in your pictures he might be there. Ever meet a man named Vern Morrow? He would have been about mid/late teens during the war like yourself and with a similar vocation, he was also a troublemaker :P worth a shot!

My actual questions:

  1. My friend told me that their gun crew was mainly captured Russians overseen by a couple young Germans. Was this the case for your crew as well? If so can you tell us a little about them or your gun crew's situation? My friend seemed to have forged quite a bond with his fellow crew members (despite obvious barriers to friendship) and was very sad to tell me that most fled the advancing Red Army as the war went on, fearing reprisals.

  2. What's your funniest personal story from that time? I know this sounds strange, with the war being such a heavy topic, but you were a young man and young men always try to have fun despite the circumstances. Soldiers tend to be a bit of a goofy bunch at times. My friend's memoirs are dotted with funny experiences during the war, mostly having to do with his many run ins with authority.


Q:

How have you mastered fine dining, breathing, AND remembered your name?

A:

Absolutely! My first game, Militia, is available for free on Google Play (with an additional in-app purchase for the Dark World expansion content).

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.braingoodgames.militia

(not on iOS cause I don't have an iOS developer license or a Mac, but perhaps someday!)


Q:
  1. He says that they had captured Russians for their crew. They had to carry the ammunition. In times of of bombardment, they would hide in the bunker and the german officers forced them to go outside again using their guns. They also had Russian gun carriages which had 8,5 caliber. They were extended to fit the German 8,8 caliber and after around 100 shots the pipes got so warm that they couldn't use them anymore.

His crew was mostly people from his class and from his village and from around the other villages.

  1. He can't remember anything in particular unfortunately. That weren't the times for it, he says.
A:

It's just life. It's the world in which I exist and the world in which we exist. It's like asking a boy, "How do you become a man?" It's just the way it is.

But isolation from the outside helps. Keeping clarity.


Q:

How old were you when you started learning programming? What languages are you familiar with? Is there anything else beyond game developing you plan in the future?

A:

It's always amazing to me that people find goodness, friendship and bright moments in the middle of terrible events and circumstances. Do you have any good memories from your time as a prisoner of war? What helped you get through that time?


Q:

Do you have any favorite stories to share about people who have worked at Edwin's and have now moved on to other things?

A:

I started in grade 10, so 15-16? C#, Java, JavaScript, C(++), Ruby, Python, Perl blah blah blah. It's best to just use the best (or most supported) at any given time for any given job. Only takes a couple weeks to get really comfortable (for me anyway).

Maybe music? I play guitar and sing in a band with some friends on New Years and such. So maybe more of that stuff?


Q:

"We were allowed to write short cards/messages home, that gave hope. He also says that "the Russians that worked with us Germans in that factory had it worse than us. We were treated less worse than them." I am not sure if that was a bit of hope for him (as macabre as it is), if he sees it positive. He mentioned it though. He also says that helping with the theater in the Camp helped.

A:

They're all favorites because our graduates have shown great courage. But Lynn graduated in 2016, and has since bought his own hot dog cart, Udi Dogs. He comes by the restaurant every few weeks so the staff and students get to enjoy his food. I loved being able to send Darwin, our current sous chef, to France, too.


Q:

If you had a team, what kind AAA game would you do?

A:

How do you feel about neo-Nazism and what would you like to say to someone who believes in it?
Thank you for answering these questions. Have a nice day!


Q:

Is Darwin going to a culinary school? That sounds amazing.

A:

The main thing I would add is online multiplayer (multiplayer in general!), and more animations for everything.

Honestly though, I find 1P Strategy games to be a hugely unexplored design space, and I'm excited to be doing that for the time being!


Q:

"They should go to Russia and see what happened there." He does not like people like that at all. Also I have to say that I don't think he met a lot of Neo-Nazis in his time. Our village thankfully doesn't have any, as far as I know.

A:

Our goal is to help our graduates get jobs in other restaurants to broaden their experience and leadership skills, but Darwin was so strong that, after graduation, we hired him as a sous chef. Now he's able to mentor and teach while he's also learning himself.

I told Darwin, like I tell all of our graduates, never stop learning but if you're set on going to culinary school, make sure you spend a few years in the industry first. You'll be surprised at how much you know and can learn just by doing.


A:

How do you feel when young people say things like "___ is literally Hitler"?

How do you feel about comparisons drawn between modern politics and those of Germany in the 30s and 40s?

You were young when Hitler came to power and still young when the war broke out. How involved we're you in politics? How much did you understand?

Thank you for doing this AmA. I agree with your grandchildren that it is important to preserve the memories of our elders, regardless of whether we agree with what they did, or not.

EDIT: I didn't allow for Germany having different social norms. It makes sense that they don't refer to Hitler in such flippant ways.


Q:

The concept of the business, is a great stepping stone btw. What is he hiring process like? Do you recruit or do people come to you seeking work?

A:

I see what you did thar.


Q:
  1. "In itself I don't like it if people do this comparison. But with the new american president it is difficult not to draw the parallels" (He had some difficulties really grasping what you meant with this question, I think. I don't think he meets a lot of people who throw these comparisons around so easily (maybe it is more of an internet thing)).

  2. He doesn't see the comparison between modern politics and those of germany in the 30s and 40s. At least not in Germany itself. Other places might be different though.

  3. "We were raised to believe in it. I was in the Hitlerjugend and afterwards we had to join the party. I was 16 when I joined the party. But I was too young for politics. We only believed in what they told us."

A:

Process is simple. Sign up, interview, GO. We don't recruit, its all about word of mouth. The difficult part is the first three weeks, which is like a boot camp, a lot of people don't make it out.


Q:

What is your opinion on the many European (and American) far-right populist movements that have become so popular in the last year - do you have concerns that what you went through may happen to your children's or grandchildren's generations?

A:

I can imagine it is tough maybe adjusting. Like the work in the culinary area is demanding. Mental toughness


Q:

He doesn't like these movements at all. There was a recent comment from Höcke, an AfD politician about the Holocaust memorial which my grandfather found awful. He says that Höcke should be send to Russia to a prisoners camp to experience what he experienced and then he wouldn't say these things. He says that these populists have no idea what they are talking about.

A:

You nailed it, toughness, especially mental toughness is what you need to succeed in life


Q:

So we have the restaurant boom in Cleveland, but it's threatened by lack of good staff. How is the institute responding to this issue and how in demand are the students?

A:

The restaurant boom is, in fact, true, but the general idea of lack of good staff is not the problem; it's a lack of training. It's restaurant owners who don't know how to train or don't want to train because they expanded into too many restaurants too rapidly.

We don't have a difficult time running a fine dining restaurant. We have a waiting list of people who want to be involved. And it's not the staff, it's the training. We get people in here with no experience, and we train them to be the best.

We respond by training to the top and training leaders. Currently, there are 40 restaurants who are on a list waiting to hire, so the demand is high.


Q:

What's your favorite meal to cook at home?

A:

I'll be honest, I don't get a lot of time to cook at home, when I do its something like cereal, or a simple breakfast with my wife and kid


Q:

Any info on the butcher shop or is it still in the planning stages?

A:

Plans being drafted and roof being fixed now. Construction should start in May 2016.


Q:

Time travel or 2017? :)

A:

2017, I get my years confused from time to time


Q:

I'm not a felon, but I love your program! How can I be a part of it?

A:

shoot our case manager an email [email protected] she will get you all the info you need


Q:

Thank you for what you are doing! The system makes it so hard for ex convicts to make a living and avoid reverting to crime once they are out of prison. You are doing an awesome thing giving these folks a second chance at life. How passionate are the employees? Do you look into what they were in prison for, if so whats some of the common crimes they did time for?

A:

Our students are here 50 hours a week for little pay, the have homework and papers due weekly, if that's not passion I don't know what is.


Q:

As a Frenchman, I wanted to know, what is served in French Restaurants? Since you're fine dining, I can't imagine it being things like Pot au Feu or Potée Bretonne, but except Foie Gras, nothing comes to mind when I think of fine dining which is very French.


Q:

What drove you to start this program?

A:

I got arrested and found a mentor who taught me about perfect practice.

Here's some more color: http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/us/cnnheroes-brandon-chrostowski-edwins-cleveland/


Q:

Did you ever felt like giving up and what did you do in such situations?

A:

No, its been tough at times, but in tight or difficult times its about pushing through and fighting for the cause


Q:

How have members of the Cuyahoga County justice system treated you and the restaurant in the community? How have they reacted to the project, whether that be personally or within the context of policy and government?

In my experience, the Cuyahoga County judicial system seems a bit harsh toward offenders, both on a case-by-case basis and systemically. I wonder if that's your experience, and if so, how that has affected Edwin's, or how Edwin's has affected the system.

Thanks for all you do and keep up the amazing work.

A:

They've been extremely receptive to it. Not only do they dine here, support us in public forums, but they've even gone so far as to set up a culinary club inside the county jail that we helped with, and they have put resources behind it.

Understand their justice system accommodates many municipalities.

We have a strong re-entry court and, if you look at the state of Ohio, we have more than double the amount of people coming home after prison than that of the second-largest county, yet our recidivism is lower than they state average by half a percent.

It may be a tough system, but it's a good system.


Q:

Where do you see Edwin's in the next 10, 20 years? How do you hope to expand your mission and brand?

A:

By having the best culinary school in the country and being a civil rights leader for returning citizens. By also continuing to do what we're doing already. The campus was first, the building for the butcher shop is ready, after that it will be a bakery, cheese shop, etc. We're isolating each one of the skills in the school and teaching in a real world environment. We are affecting every aspect - the culinary aspect and the school aspect. We're also teaching a culinary program in all state prisons. The fact can not be denied that every human being deserves a fair and equal second chance.


Q:

I love the wraparound model of offering training, employment and housing. By investing in the properties that house students or new business ventures, you are also making our communtity a better place. I am really excited to see things unfold. Edwin's is my favorite restaurant in Cleveland...I can't wait for the butcher shop and bakery to open!

A:

Thanks, appreciate the support!


Q:

your most memorable worker(s)?

A:

Kelvin Bailey, from where he started to where he is now.

You can see a little more about him on life after edwins here http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/us/cnnheroes-brandon-chrostowski-edwins-cleveland/


Q:

I had lunch in a restaurant with a similar MO in Charlotte, probably about 8 years ago, and loved it.

Do you keep in touch with similar businesses, e.g. To discuss business strategies and experiences, or collaborate in any other way such as marketing?

A:

Good q. We try to reach out to other players in this space but pretty buried in what we have going on. Please send me info about the restaurant in Charlotte as I would love to check out.


Q:

Live in Cleveland and shared your story on Facebook a few weeks ago when it made the front page. I could only hope to have an impact like you in the community. Do you guys have volunteer opportunities?

A:

Thanks for the kind words! We depend on volunteers for lots of things - you can reach out to our volunteer coordinator, Marie, at volunteer (at) edwinsrestaurant.org who can share more.


Q:

How long does it usually take for one of your workers to do a complete turn around? From being a convict to a total success?

Do a lot of them come in with a "me against the world" attitude or do they come in knowing it's time to turn things around

A:

I think the better question is how long does it take a human being to achieve their goals? We've all made past mistakes, so we're always striving to be better, we're always striving to improve as individuals.

I do think that someone who's done a long stretch, it takes at least a good six months to become more human because a length of time in prison affects someone's self-esteem and morale.


Q:

I have worked with former inmates in the past and I know it can be difficult adjusting to life in the real world after their release from prison.

Could you tell me about some of the support services that you provide members of your program with outside of your restaurant?

A:

You're right, its a big transition. We offer whatever someone needs to accomplish their goal. If we don't have it in house we go to our strong network of supporters, diners, etc., most of whom are highly rated int their field of work. We have a case manager that helps with any social needs, connects them with child care, social services, etc. We also have attorney that helps with legal woes (driver's license reinstatement, child support, custody battles, etc.). We also offer a family class to build stronger families. We have a handwriting analysis expert who has become more of a counselor. We also offer housing for students and alumni. On top of that we have a staff that cares about each student as if they were a member of the family.


Q:

Brandon, I think this is awesome. This is the only way we're going to help people turn their lives around. We can't throw them in a cage for 5 or 10 or 12 years, then turn them loose and expect them to succeed in a world that left them behind.

I love what amount to grassroots efforts like this. Rachel's House in Columbus does some of the same support stuff it sounds like you're doing, aimed at women returning to society after drug and prostitution offenses.

Can you talk a little more about the beginnings of your work, or point us to more writings? What kind of support or pushback did you get from the Parole Authority in the beginning? Was there a lot of doubt on their end? How difficult was it to get into the prisons for classes?

And a last q, if you want: care to comment on the ODRC decision to get rid of the system's farmland and that decisions's effects on diets and such?

A:

Here's a link to a few of my recent op-eds: http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2016/06/02/op-ed-heeding-the-humanity-of-former-prisoners http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/07/prison_gave_me_a_recipe_for_fr.html

We didn't get any push back, we got support. Parole officers don't want to see people fail. They want solutions for success. We also had zero resistance from prisons for our classes. Re: the ODRC decision, its unfortunate but I understand there is a cost associated with that. I thought it was great opportunity for them to learn valuable skills and where food comes from.


Q:

I've been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder and have a PCL-R score of 33/40. Meaning I'm a psychopath.

A lot of people like me end up going through the prison system, would you/have you hired someone like me (knowingly)? If so then what pros/cons do you think there would be/have you noticed?

A:

Yes, you could be part of our program. We have a tough first 3 weeks to see if you can handle the intensity of the the industry. We have come across many people with different issues and we make sure there is a strong network to support all of them. Your honesty about the situation can make it better and easier, if you are willing to understand the issues you face we will be there to help you through them.


Q:

Is the business model viable? Could someone do the same thing without the 501 status?

A:

Yes and No, you would have to cut out a lot of the extras such as housing, case management and other perks our students have. If you work had enough its possible.


Q:

Do your employees ever suggest recipes and if so, what was the weirdest recipe and what was the best recipe?

A:

Yes, they do. The weirdest was bleu cheese ice cream. They come up with recipes for our specials all the time, so come in for dinner to try the best ones.


Q:

Were you ever afraid to fire anyone?

A:

No. There are certain issues that we have 0 tolerance for and are easy calls to make. The other times we have to let someone go are because of effort and we give many opportunities to succeed so it is an easy call to make. No fear when being fair and doing the right thing.


Q:

having 2 felons in my family I certainly would say thank you for what you do, its certainly hard for them to find gainful employment at this point. I have had the idea of doing something similar but with something similar to a thrift store or habitat for humanity type store, what advice would you give me?

A:

in spirit, don't stop working towards your goal. Don't EVER stop. After that, six things: one, write business plan; get it out of your head and make it vulnerable.

Two, incorporate. Take up space in our world.

Three, get your team together.

Four, develop a brand.

Five, start doing it.

And, six, and now you're ready to start raising capital.


Q:

Yo who's the biggest Cleveland celeb you guys have served?

I'm originally from Cleveland and I'm really excited to see people like you helping to revitalize the community. Keep up the great work!

A:

For food Michael Symon Michael Rhulman

Politics Senators Sherrod Brown

entertainment Al Roker (cleveland native)

Sports: Joe Jurevicius


Q:

You mentioned the 3 week boot camp a lot...I'm curious, what does that entail?

A:

Gastronomy, Culinary Math, ServSafe, Menu Knowledge, and a number of other things all very intense training.


Q:

Are you aware if any of the employees did time together?

Do they talk about prison at all during casual conversation? More specificallly, have you ever heard "prison rules!", jokingly or not?

And just from your viewpoint, what's the ratio of ethnicities in your employees?

A:

Yeah, there have been people who did some time together.

To your second question, not really, but you do hear students recall some moments, particularly as it relates to cooking techniques inside.

In an average class, it's 90% African American and 10% white, and there are certainly more men than women.


Q:

Hi Brandon! I work at a nonprofit in Nashville that helps formerly incarcerated people find employment so I love what you're doing. Employment and job training is absolutely the biggest factor in reducing recidivism. Also, a big fan of the wrap-around services you offer. Have you had any trouble with finding interested employees or with retention? And have you had any trouble with community support and fund development?

A:

We have close to 100 restaurant in the city who have hired our students, and a list of about 40 who are waiting for students to graduate. We are trying to make the community better and they are behind us fully!


Q:

It's my understanding that many kitchens develop quirks or rituals that become a part of the kitchen's culture. Have any of these kinds of peculiarities emerged in the kitchen at EDWINS?

A:

Long running joke, our director of culinary arts, Gerry Grim, been with us from the start. Any word, say like Cherry or Blueberry becomes Gerryies or bluegerries


Q:

Hi Brandon, I just want to say that as someone who lives 5-10 minutes away from your place, it's been a real pleasure. My parents brought me up there last fall, and I really didn't know what to expect. However, I was absolutely blown away by the service and hospitality. My question is, what is the most memorable instance of a former worker leaving to do something else?

A:

To many to mention, I do love when a student comes back to talk about his experiences somewhere else though


Q:

How much extra does your insurance cost?

A:

No extra cost. At the beginning there was a bit of difficulty finding insurance, but the rate is the same as a typical restaurant. The greater difficulty was more about finding the travelers insurance ( coverage for visits to prison). Liquor and all that wasn't too difficult.


Q:

Oh shit, I live right down the road from this! Anyway, my question is this: Do you have problems promoting the business sometimes? I would expect a restaurant run by reformed convicts wouldn't have the most popular ad campaign...


Q:

I work with inmates working in Correctional Industries. We also run a cafe, staffed by female inmates, which is open to the public.

Do you find a good deal of your business is for the novelty factor?

We get a ton of people that drop by because getting served by inmates is a weird and strange experience. It's amazing how often people say, "Oh, they're just like normal people."

Thank you for the work you do, I sincerely believe giving someone a purpose and a chance is the best way to keep recidivism rates down and make a real change in someone's life.

A:

No, we do not, we are charging $34 for a french hamburger, the novelty wears off if the quality isn't there.


Q:

Are there any aspects of your training programme that are different to other restaurants' training programmes which are designed to educate your workers on the cons of reoffending/show them the pros of employment?

A:

We are more aggressive, each student works every position in the restaurant. To the second part of your question, there are no lessons on why not to re-offend the trick is to provide more powerful yes. If we can keep a student more focused on accomplishing their goals the temptation to return to there old way becomes a less powerful yes.


Q:

Im assuming the customers know the fame around the restaurant. But do you ever still get a shitty customer?

A:

A majority do know about what we do but many still do not. This restaurant is no different than others and we still get our share of the shit. I will tell you that we are not a cheap restaurant and if we do not deliver then we reap what we sow!


Q:

My fiancée and I are going to EDWINS for valentines day this year. Any suggestions?

A:

Oysters, Paupiette, Venison, Chocolate Pyramid!


Q:

Would ever branch out?

A:

We want to build deeper not wider, that why we have done the butcher shop and campus, we want to expand on our neighborhood and where we are. We have 166 graduates, they are our expansion.

http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2017/01/09/edwins-to-open-butcher-shop-in-buckeye-neighborhood-in-mission-to-better-lives-of-many

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2015/09/edwins_second_chance_campus_co.html