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Rocklin restaurant serves up second chances for Placer County inmates

Placer County inmates get second chance with Rocklin culinary program
Placer County inmates get second chance with Rocklin culinary program 02:56

ROCKLIN — A restaurant in Rocklin is serving up more than just good food. They are teaming up with the Placer County Sheriff's Office to serve up second chances by hiring graduates of the jail's Culinary Arts Program.

David Smith, a spokesperson for the Placer County Sheriff's Office, said the two-week program equips inmates with entry-level employment skills for the food industry.

"It helps them to find jobs here in the community to try to reduce recidivism rates with individuals we see coming in and out of our custody," Smith said.

Smith said the key foundation for success in the program is finding local restaurants and businesses willing to take a chance on someone who may have made a mistake.

"I think the biggest thing is everybody needs a second chance," Smith said.

Kathrin Grosse who owns Kathrin's Biergarten Restaurant in Rocklin is a huge believer in the power of second chances.

"We are putting labels on people, 'Oh he's an ex-con blah blah', we have to work beyond the labels, and give people a chance because you actually never know," Grosse said. "All that matters to me whether people are honest, hardworking and caring about this business."

The culinary program has graduated 43 people from Placer County custody. Thomas is one of the program's success stories who was hired by Grosse and has worked for her for a month now.

"You can tell that Thomas wants to make a change in his life. He wants to be here," Grosse said. "Thomas is punctual, respectful, he's trying, he's like a role model in the kitchen."

Thomas is equally as grateful for the opportunity, reuniting with the sergeant who oversees the program and having the chance to thank the people who have helped him overcome difficulties.

"I think it's really excellent, they give everyone that couldn't really maintain life, they've given them a chance, a real good chance to change your life around," Thomas said. "I really appreciate it and I'm not going to let them down."

Grosse, who believes in Thomas and praised his work ethic, knows what it's like to overcome past mistakes. She immigrated from Germany but once worked as a social worker with experience in maximum security prisons.

"If people just treat you as a criminal, you will never get back on track, I just want them to start fresh," Grosse said. "I think this is how we get people back on track and keep them out of falling back in an old pattern."

She praised the Placer County Sheriff's Office for their efforts to make this program accessible and successful for their inmates.

"You can tell he fully cares about his inmates too, he doesn't see them as inmates but human beings who encounter really extreme circumstances that no one should underestimate," Grosse said.

Placer County is searching for other restaurants or businesses to team up with their department to find more successful matches within their culinary arts program. Anyone interested can contact their department.

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