As the owner of a restaurant franchise, he has come a long way and is now helping others through his example.
Throughout life, we all make mistakes and all it takes is rectification and a second chance to be who a person is meant to be. Sajad Shakoor, a man who turned his life around for the better after getting a second chance to correct his mistakes, per CBS News. The added element is that he also used his second chance to make a difference in the lives of others and to bring something beautiful into the world with his talent. The man who is now the owner of the restaurant franchise, Falafel Corner, had been in prison twice during his early years living in Mexico where the law was strict.
He mentioned that after getting into a fistfight, he went to prison for the third time. This time, things weren't looking good for Shakoor. "I was in prison most of my life, over 20 years," he said. "I went in when I was in high school. I went in for a third strike. My third strike was instigating a fist fight and this was a law where if you had two previous felonies, your third one, no matter what it was, would give you a life sentence." On receiving his life sentence, Shakoor had no choice but to figure out a way to spend the rest of his life. However, he decided to let his true colors shine, even in prison.
He developed culinary skills in prison, beginning with his famous quesadilla, which now proudly stands on his menu. "We couldn't get cheese in prison, so I used to have to make my own cheese. We'd bring milk from the kitchen, use kitchen hats and hair nets and strain the cheese through there and let it dry,” Shakoor recalled. That’s where it all began—a transformation for good. While Shakoor kept improving his cooking, he tried to bring about a reformation. He worked on a proposition to rework the law that imposes life sentences after three strikes and maintain the same only if the felony is violent or extreme.
After his noteworthy contribution and talented acquisitions, Shakoor was freed, where he chased his talent and with hard work, acquired the Falafel Corner. He uses his origins to add flavor and get an upper hand in the industry. "I grew up in a Mexican neighborhood and as a result, a lot of my flavors have Mexican seasonings in them and in addition to that, because I'm Pakistani, I put Pakistani influences into the Mediterranean," Shakoor said. The restaurant, which serves everything from the iconic falafel to fast food, has become a popular franchise loved by many.
Shakoor has over 40 locations of his franchise spread out and even after amending the law, he decided to go one step further in paying it back. His staff includes many who, like him, are looking for a second chance. "Whether it's an Afghan refugee who's trying to make something of his life with his family or some lady who got divorced who might need some financial stability," he said. Shakoor’s quesadilla, his way of working, and his franchise are a reminder and an evident pillar of an example that second chances are invaluable.