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Philanthropists at Work

Restaurant to Employ Non-Violent Offenders

Saying they have been inspired by others who have helped the formerly incarcerated turn their lives around, Oklahoma City philanthropists plan to open a restaurant that would employ non-violent offenders after they are released from prison.

Retired businessman Jim Barnett said he and others purchased the equipment from Java Dave’s coffee house after it closed a few years ago and are looking for a building to house the restaurant, which will be a non-profit venture.

Mr. Barnett said they will be standing on the shoulders of Earl Neighbors, who hired former inmates when he owned Java Dave’s, and have been inspired by Rhonda Bear, who founded two coffee shops in Claremore that are run entirely by formerly incarcerated women.

Randy Sudik, one of the owners of the Allied Steel Construction Co., is among several Oklahoma men and women who are partners in the endeavor, including owners or executives with the Midwest Wrecking Co., BancFirst and Schwab Meat Co.

Mr. Sudik said his company has several employees who were once incarcerated.
“We are all about giving people another chance,” Mr. Sudik said.

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