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Longfellow grilled cheese cafe plans to hire people with criminal records

The story goes a little something like this: A former attorney working on prisoner re-entry, fair housing, and discrimination cases with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is plain sick and tired of people with criminal records being vilified.

A person convicted of a crime is still a person, says Emily Turner. So she has cooked up a plan to open a cafe that focuses on hiring people with criminal records (though because of discrimination laws she can't only hire people with criminal records).

"These are real people who just mess up," she told Jim Walsh in the Southwest Journal. In fact, she added, "a lot of people with records didn’t ever mess up. That’s the truth, right?" 

Turner said she couldn't "look away" anymore, and wants to be more than just an ally. She wants to open up a restaurant -- a grilled cheese restaurant to be exact -- that could be a haven for individuals with criminal records seeking employment. 

Why grilled cheese? It's pretty simple. It's the only thing she knows how to cook. But they're good grilled cheeses, and everybody likes grilled cheese, so why not? 

Turner has cobbled together an advisory board that includes Sarah Masters of Mr. Roberts Resort and Heather Bray and Jodi Ayers of the Lowbrow, and there's a Kickstarter launch party scheduled for Thursday, September 8 (that's today), at DuNord Craft Spirits starting at 7:30 p.m. 

She's dubbed the restaurant-to-be "All Square, Grilled Cheese with a Purpose," and she's pushing for a spring opening in Longfellow. 

The fundraising goal is $50,000, and runs today through October 22. Click here to contribute or find out more.