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Reasons to Love Minnesota No. 20: All Square

Grilled cheese sandwiches with a side of social good

All Square in South Minneapolis is one part restaurant, one part training academy. Its main objective is to provide a living wage and professional development opportunities to formerly incarcerated men and women. The social enterprise is the brainchild of Emily Hunt Turner, a civil rights attorney with a background in housing, architecture, and public policy; and its M.O. is guided by a diverse board of directors, including two former inmates.

The folks accepted into the yearlong fellowship program are resilient, hard-working individuals who have struggled to land steady jobs because of past criminal records. All Square pays its fellows $14 an hour to start and provides assistance with transportation, business attire, mobile phones, and more. Fellows work in the restaurant 30 hours a week, learning everything from sandwich making to social media, and devote another 10 to structured coursework covering practical stuff like résumé writing and personal finance.

Big-picture topics like civil rights and criminal justice reform are also broached. Graduates of the program leave with new skills, superb references, and the training and/or seed money they need to launch their next chapter. This is a phenomenal program that we’d love to see replicated across the country.

But also: the sandwiches are really tasty! The rotisserie jerk chicken with Swiss, provolone, and guava jam is a best seller, but our favorite is the Punch ‘n Crunch: melty cheddar topped with pickled jalapeños, chili cheese corn chips, and a squirt of Sriracha-spiked ranch. Yes, please!

All Square
4047 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-787-7164.