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Grilled Cheese Gives Some a Second Chance

Classic grilled cheese sandwich

Grilled cheese is a total comfort food. Who doesn’t love hot, melted cheese between two slices of crunchy bread? As you can see in our Autumn issue’s Grilled Cheese Spectacular, there’s no shortage of love (or creative ideas!) surrounding this cheesy favorite. But Emily Turner has a vision for grilled cheese almost more inventive than using cheese as the bread in our Cheesy McCheese sandwich.

Turner founded All Square, a grilled cheese cafe in Minneapolis, to employ individuals with criminal records who are interested in furthering their future. A former attorney with the Department of Housing, Turner grew disheartened when she saw how difficult it was for people with criminal records (or even people who were charged and not convicted) to access the basic rights of re-entry to the job market, housing, and steady income.

Turner chose grilled cheese because it’s a joke amongst her friends that it’s the only thing she can cook (maybe she read our guide). The food is also a symbol of childhood and home for many, and a sense of homes and belonging is what All Square hopes to make accessible to its employees.

“These are people who just mess up, and a lot of people with records don’t ever mess up. That’s the truth, right?” Turner told the Southwest Journal. Turner’s work with fair housing and discrimination cases means she’s no stranger to the alarming statistics surrounding equitable housing for people with criminal records.

Cheese, of course, is at the heart of her solution. “At the end of the day, I’d love for All Square to just be a really good grilled cheese shop and not have to label them at all,” Turner said. She hopes that the restaurant appeals to our deeper human urges to care for one anothermdash;and what better way to do that than around plates of delicious grilled cheese?

All Square is set to open in spring 2017. You can donate to the Kickstarter here.

Casey Walker

​Casey Walker is a Boston-based writer, constantly scoping out new recipes and restaurants.