Restaurant Reopening Diaries: Brandon Chrostowski of EDWINS

Not even a global pandemic can break EDWINS’ stride. According to owner Brandon Chrostowski, sales at EDWINS are up 52% and the restaurant is “busier now than ever before.”

Part of the success can be attributed to EDWINS popular “4 for $40” promotions, which offer a three-course meal for a family of four — along with baked bread and salad — for $40. (Today’s offering? Chicken paprikash, dumplings, corn, and Linzer tarts for dessert; pair with a bottle of Merlot for an extra $12.)

But Chrostowski also attributes the momentum to a laser-sharp focus on the three things that matter most to him during the pandemic: “[To] fight for our staff to stay healthy and employed, fight to feed Cleveland, and fight to spread our mission,” says Chrostowski. “And the money has followed that.”

Brandon Chrostowski talks with guests on opening night.

Up until now, EDWINS has been open for curbside pickup, take-out, and delivery, but on Friday, May 15, EDWINS joined other restaurants around Ohio in reopening its patio to dine-in customers — something Chrostowski has been ruminating on for a while.

“Several weeks into this [pandemic], my instincts were that people wouldn’t want to eat indoors,” says Chrostowski. “Even before the governor said he would allow patio dining, my sense was that people wouldn’t be comfortable in a closed area. My first thought was to tent our patio so that we can get full usage [even in inclement weather].”

According to Chrostowski, EDWINS will be ensuring safety by testing staff members; requiring staff to wear masks (and gloves, when necessary); offering disposable menus; and spacing tables according to social distancing. True to the EDWINS spirit, Chrostowski has also supported nearby businesses by ordering handmade masks from Lina Tailoring & Alterations and sprucing up the tables with flowers from Orban’s for a fresh springtime feel. “Perception is reality,” says Chrostowski.

It’s all part of the spirit and ethos behind EDWINS, which encompasses a restaurant, butcher shop, and bakery — all of which provide culinary and hospitality training and employment for formerly incarcerated adults.

“People often look at success as dollars and cents, but I look at how many people we’re employing and feeding and how we’re keeping the mission going,” says Chrostowski. “If you’re a business doing right and taking care of your community, that’s what will help you survive.”

Jen Jones Donatelli

Read the other entries in our Restaurant Reopening Diaries series:

Zack Bruell of Parallax, L’Albatros, and Alley Cat Oyster Bar

David Ina of Zaytoon Lebanese Kitchen

Tammy Phillip of Wine Down & Sweets