Reformed gang members working to make a better life for others

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – As the discussion continues about prison conditions and rival gangs, two former gang members are using their organization to spread unity. Keewin Grayer and Kenneth Daggans met in prison. Both Gangster Disciples, they worked their way up the ranks, but they knew there had to be more to life than crime and prison. “Being a reformed Gangster Disciple, what it means to me is that it’s a reformation within itself. It’s something we became when we were younger as children, and there are things that we were taught then that just weren’t right,” Grayer said. Daggans spent 17 years in prison, eight of those in solitary confinement. Grayer was behind bars for 24 years. Both say that experience changed their lives. “We became leaders together. Me and this brother right here in the penitentiary, amongst all of the inhumane conditions we lived under, we came together and came to the conclusion that we’re the leaders and we’re going to stand up as leaders,” he said. On Thursday, they stood side by side at a prayer rally for conditions inside the prisons, representing their organization, Blackfist Outreach Ministries. Their aim is to use the lives they’ve l...

Jester Concepts’ owner serves growing restaurant group’s lessons to others

Brent Frederick, owner of Jester Concepts, says a key ingredient in the growth of the hospitality company behind restaurants including Parlour and Borough was one that failed. Jester Concepts has expanded in the past decade as the Twin Cities chef-driven restaurant scene has boomed. The group also operates P.S. Steak, Monello, Constantine and Mercado in Minneapolis and a concession in a sports venue. In addition to overseeing Jester Concepts, Frederick is working to help others benefit from his experience and avoid missteps like those that led to the 2017 closing of Coup d’Etat after a three-year run in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood. One issue in that case was not doing enough research into whether people who lived nearby would support the offering. Frederick shares lessons learned and insider knowledge as widely as possible through platforms including a Twin Cities restaurant leadership group, a CEO roundtable and the Minnesota Restaurant Association (MRA). An MRA board member, Frederick is working with others in the organization to develop a membership package that details how to get into the restaurant business. Understanding the business side of running a restaurant is m...