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3. Serenite is a rave hit now, but didn’t start that way

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    Jim and Betsy Gilder of Seville share a meal on opening night at Serenite Restaurant, 538 W. Liberty St., Medina.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Medina County Common Pleas Judge Joyce V. Kimbler gave a tour of Serenite Restaurant and Culinary Institute to Ohio Supreme Court Justice Mary DeGenaro while she was in town for the Medina County Bar Association’s 2018 Law Day.

    CINDY BREDA / GAZETTE

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    Richard Sisson, who works at Serenite Restaurant and Culinary Institute, tells Medina County commissioners Tuesday that he’s straightened out his life after years of addiction.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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    Serenite Restaurant and Culinary Institute, 538 W. Liberty St., Medina, celebrated its grand opening Thursday evening. The institute teaches members of the recovery community the skills needed to work in a fine-dining restaurant.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Serenite Restaurant and Culinary Institute, 538 W. Liberty St., Medina, celebrated its grand opening Thursday evening. The institute teaches members of the recovery community the skills needed to work in a fine-dining restaurant.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Serenite Restaurant and Culinary Institute, 538 W. Liberty St., Medina, celebrated its grand opening Thursday evening. The institute teaches members of the recovery community the skills needed to work in a fine-dining restaurant.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Medina resident Chip Jenkins voices concerns Monday about serving alcohol at Serenite Restaurant. City Council voted 6-1 against transferring the liquor license from the former Medina Steakhouse and Saloon at 538 W. Liberty St. to Serenite.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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    Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier, second from left, says Thursday he understands people’s concerns about serving alcohol at Serenite Restaurant, but it’s important to give the students the best culinary program possible. Also pictured, from left, Michael Flaherty, general manager of Serenite; county Chief Probation Officer Veronica Perry; and Stefanie Robinson, director of operations at the Recovery Center of Medina County.

    LIZ SHEAFFER / GAZETTE

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    Brandon Chrostowski, founder of the nonprofit Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, discusses plans for the culinary program and Serenite Restaurant at the Recovery Center of Medina County on Thursday in Medina.

    LIZ SHEAFFER / GAZETTE

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    Gilbert Brenot will be the executive chef at Serenite Restaurant at the Recovery Center of Medina County in Medina.

    LIZ SHEAFFER / GAZETTE

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    Brandon Chrostowski, founder of the nonprofit Edwins Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, discusses plans for the culinary program and Serenite Restaurant at the Recovery Center of Medina County on Thursday in Medina.

    LIZ SHEAFFER / GAZETTE

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When the Recovery Center of Medina County opened its doors in 2017, it was championed as an endeavor that was much needed due to the opioid crisis gripping the region.

Medina County Chief Probation Office Veronica Perry jump-started the project when she applied for and received a $300,000 grant.

But it was a 2018 addition to the center that sparked controversy.

The recovery center opened the Serenite Restaurant & Culinary Institute at the former Medina Steakhouse, offering members of the recovery community a chance to learn about working in a fine-dining restaurant.

It hasn’t been entirely easy for the recovery center. Many opposed the fact that alcohol would be served in the French cuisine restaurant.

The recovery center originally partnered with Robby’s Voice, but the nonprofit group cut ties over the decision to serve alcohol. The recovery center’s executive director, Stefanie Robinson, also quit.

The opposition didn’t end there. Medina City Council objected to the serving of alcohol and said it couldn’t support the project. It originally wanted to schedule a hearing with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control over the liquor license for Serenite Restaurant.

Council decided later to back off its objection, the restaurant eventually got its liquor license and is still drawing rave reviews.

Serenite founder Brandon Chrostowski patterned Serenite after his Edwin’s Restaurant in Cleveland, which teaches former prison inmates the ins and outs of the restaurant business.

This year, the culinary institute saw the graduation of its inaugural class of five students who are recovering addicts. There are 10 students in the current class, and Jess Hazeltine, administrative manager, said 35 to 50 individuals attend meetings regularly at the recovery center.



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