If you named the greatest places in the world, would a Minneapolis sandwich shop make your list?
Time magazine thinks it should. As a matter of fact, the national magazine suggests it's a "destination to experience right now," alongside Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths in Husavik, Iceland and an eco-camp at the Mara Naboisho Conservancy in Kenya.
Of course, All Square (4047 Minnehaha Av. S., 612-787-7164), the grilled cheese-slinging restaurant in south Minneapolis is not just a sandwich shop. As noted in Time's description of the small but mighty kitchen: "Its ambitions are much greater."
When civil rights lawyer Emily Hunt Turner opened the shop in September 2018, her primary goal was to employ formerly incarcerated individuals, offering them a steady paycheck and a fellowship in professional development.
"Fellows work at least 30 hours a week at the shop, training in everything from wellness to social media," Time magazine writes of the program. "They devote 10 to 15 more hours to learning critical skills like résumé writing and personal finance."
The first All Square class graduated this year, sending 11 fellows out into the world with references, work experience and new skills. Those employment essentials are not always easy to come by for individuals with a criminal record. Re-entry to society after incarceration is often dogged by difficulty finding affordable housing, rejections based on routine background checks and a loss of voting rights.
“What’s the point of going to prison and doing your time if you get out and then you’re just punished?” Turner told the Star Tribune recently. “We find that so often, just existing and surviving post-incarceration is the standard, and we’re looking to challenge and change that.”
On top of celebrating the Time magazine honor, Turner was eager to report that one of the first All Square graduates was accepted to Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul on an 80% scholarship. Chris Dolan began law school classes this week.
"We're really happy," said Turner. "We're celebrating, but we have a new cohort coming on Monday. The work is just beginning."