By Caitlin Francis
VERNON, Connecticut (WFSB) — One man went from felon to foodie.
Craig Wright says his soul was saved by soul food and second chances.
On a snowy late April day, Craig’s Kitchen is warm. He has a big smile on his face as he works on food prep before the doors open for lunch, but Wright’s restaurant sits across the street from Rockville Superior Court, a place he’s all to familiar with.
“Literally right across the street. It’s crazy that I own a business across the street from the courthouse where I was sentenced to years in prison. Like I get to look at it every day and I think about that,” Wright said.
Wright was bon in Michigan and spent his early childhood on the west side of Detroit before his mother died when he was 12 years old.
One of Wright’s aunts asked him if he wanted to move to Connecticut with her and he agreed.
“I thought it was a great idea, like I was young then, but I knew that Detroit really didn’t have a lot to offer,” Wright said.
He says when he got to Connecticut, he fell into bad habits and behaviors. He started lying and stealing form his family, and then dealing drugs.
“From 18 all the way to 25, when I got out of prison in 2013, so 18 to 25 I was in and out of prison. I was either in prison, I was on probation, I was on parole, or in some kind of program. Like I was under some kind of supervisions, but it’s because I kept making the same kind of decisions,” Wright says.
He says it took hitting rock bottom before he realized he needed to make some changes.
“I went in front of a parole board, I sat right there in front of them and I said, ‘I’m not proud of the person I am. My family is ashamed of me and I just want to be a better man. I want to be proud of me,’” Wright said.
He started looking for a job while he was in a halfway house, finishing out the remainder of his time.
Robbie Niemann owned a restaurant in Windsor at the time and called Wright back for an interview.
“I don’t really look at that to be honest. I kind of look at clean slates,” Niemann said.
Niemann says Wright came to the interview prepared and he knew the bus schedule.
“I just basically told them, like I need a shot and they gave me a shot and I made the most of it,” Wright said.
Now, he’s giving back to the people who gave him so much when he had nothing.
“He is an inspiration, but he’s also just a kind person. He got his head on straight, he’s always trying to motivate you to do more with your life like he’s doing. You have to have people in your corner like that,” said Donnell Penrice.
As Wright looks out the windows of the business he has worked so hard for, he’s constantly humbled and reminded of how he got there and how far he still wants to go.
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