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Susan Treischmann, owner of Curt’s Café, has been awarded $10,000 by L’Oreal Paris as a “Woman of Worth” and is in line for a $25,000 prize, which will be decided by online voters. The honor is in recognition of her work at the not-for-profit restaurant she started 18 months ago at 2922 Central St.  The $10,000 prize came about after she was singled out as one of the top 10 American women selected this year from more than 3,500 submissions of “women who are making a beautiful difference in the world.”

Curt’s stands for “Cultivating Unique Restaurant Training,” and is dedicated to helping at-risk youths, many of whom are ex-offenders, to learn the restaurant trade. Ms. Treischmann, who also helped start Restorative Justice in Evanston, opened Curt’s on May 1, 2012.

Some 30 young people have worked there so far, she said. Trainees earn $50 a day and spend half their eight-hour shifts serving customers, cleaning and cooking. The rest of their time is spent studying. All employees are helped to land a job in the trade or go back to school. “Food service skills are important, but they are secondary to life skills,” Ms. Fleishmann said. “Our job at Curt’s is to help them get to the next level with their skills and their lives.”

Ms. Treischmann said one of the nicest surprises about the L’Oreal honor was that her daughter, Anna, did not tell her when she submitted the nomination. Anna Trieschmann said she decided to nominate her mom in part because, living and working in Boston, she says, has prevented her from being as big a part of the Curt’s family as she would have liked. “I thought, ‘I can do this, support my mom.  It’s the least I can do.’” She said she did not tell her mom because she figured the odds against her winning were so steep.

“I think it’s amazing,” Anna said of the honor.

Another fan of Curt’s is Gilbert Henry, a recent trainee. He said his experience at the restaurant “was a great opportunity for me. They helped me to move forward.” Mr. Henry worked at Curt’s from May to September of 2013. He is currently working at another Evanston restaurant.

Voting for the $25,000 prize is at www.womenofworth.com, and is open from Nov. 4-20.

Les Jacobson

Les is a longtime Evanstonian and RoundTable writer and editor. He won a Chicago Newspaper Guild best feature story award in 1975 for a story on elderly suicide and most recently three consecutive Northern...