BIXBY, Okla. -- Le Jardin is a fresh start, an idea that doesn't go unnoticed by its employees.
Many of them have criminal records, stemming from challenges in their lives.
"Their father passed away in a bad car wreck the day after Christmas 2013. It destroyed all of our family. It hit me in a way I can't explain and that's when the darkness began," server Courtney Altebaumer said.
Altebaumer faced two felony charges since. For the last three months she struggled to even get a phone call while searching for work.
It's women like Courtney that inspired Angela Landrum-Ellis to create Sugar Rush Bakery in 2015, with the mission of employing women with felony records. Her new restaurant, Le Jardin, will expand opportunities for full-time work.
"It's incredibly difficult for a woman who has basically a red X on her chest when she is released from prison to provide for herself and her family," Landrum-Ellis said.
Oklahoma is the number one state in the nation for incarcerating women, 85 percent of whom have children. When released, getting back on their feet is the next hurdle.
"Not being able to take care of yourself, let alone your children... I'm a mom of three. So I couldn't provide for my kids and it makes you feel like you're worthless," Altebaumer said.
Altebaumer has only been at the restaurant a week, but already she feels this is a turning point.
"Now I can see a future instead of an end. There's a new beginning and a new chapter to my story," she said.
Le Jardin opens at 6:00 AM on Saturday and will close at 3:00, serving breakfast, brunch and lunch throughout the day.
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