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‘We’re generating leaders:’ All Square grilled cheese restaurant employs, invests in ex-cons

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Nearly a dozen convicts are getting a second chance at life in Minnesota, serving grilled cheese to the masses.

It's all about doing things differently at "All Square" in Minneapolis. From their craft grilled cheese to the people they employ to make it, the workers and even some of the people on the board have been incarcerated. The goal is to change the way people think about those with a criminal background.

Grilled cheese is one of America's favorite comfort foods, and it's all you'll find on the menu at All Square, but it's about so much more than just cheese and bread.

"Those who have paid their debts to society are all square, and free to move forward -- and not just a job, but into a vibrant life and a vibrant career, so we're trying to use our social capital to support people in getting there," said Emily Turner, owner.

The restaurant is built on the premise of employing, empowering and investing in those who have formally been incarcerated.

"When they’re in here, people know that they have a record and that’s a big deal. That takes a lot of courage, a lot of strength," said Turner.

They find common ground through grilled cheese.

"It's kind of an equalizing thing, right? I don’t know anyone that can’t enjoy a grilled cheese, and I think so much of this is about building a space where all of us from diverging viewpoints, diverging backgrounds and perspectives can enjoy something that everyone loves, and hopefully talk about some real things, and hopefully generate some change," said Turner.

Through opportunity and the "All Square Institute," Turner hopes to break down the social stigma.

"It’s a professional development institute. We’re focusing in on law and entrepreneurship. We’re generating leaders. We're trying to change the narrative," said Turner.

If you're really into grilled cheese, you can actually purchase a lifetime membership for $1,000, and get free grilled cheese for life.

Applications for the institute reopen in January of 2019.

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