NEW YORK CITY — Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner is hoping to open a restaurant and create jobs, a year after his failed bid to become the city’s next mayor.
The Rockaway Restoration Kitchen is still in the planning phases, but part of its stated mission is to aid the unemployed residents of Rockaway, Queens, a neighborhood that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
In its current state, Rockaway is a “food desert” according to Weiner, with pizzerias and other fast food joints dominating the landscape.
“It’s more than just opening a restaurant,” Weiner told CNN. “We want to do something sustainable for the community, while also providing healthy, local food options for the Rockaway population.”
There is no indication yet of what will be on the menu.
A thirteen week training program for prospective employees will cover not only kitchen and serving skills, but also professional appearance and life skills, according to Weiner.
“Our hope is to train people and give them skills to be able to go on and work in other restaurants,” Weiner said. “They’ll be able to write on their resume that they worked at Rockaway Restoration Kitchen.”
The program’s target population is unemployed residents who have had trouble finding work “because of history of substance abuse, incarceration or health problems,” according to the restaurant’s website.
“It’s ridiculous that these people are not able to find jobs because of one blemish on their records,” Weiner said.
Weiner says he’s still raising money for the non-profit, and that he hopes the restaurant will be operational “in about a year.” The eatery is currently seeking an executive director, according to a post on Idealist.org.
This won’t be the first restaurant endeavor for the family; Weiner’s brother Jason is the chef and co-owner of Almond restaurant in New York City’s Flatiron district.
Weiner gained national attention in 2011 when he resigned from Congress after admitting to sending inappropriate pictures and messages to several women.
In 2013 Weiner again made headlines when lewd text messages surfaced between him and a 22-year-old woman while he was running for mayor of New York City.