Fork in the Road
New 'high end' Middlesbrough restaurant to give ex-offenders and recovering addicts a second chance
Teesside charity leader Andy Preston is behind the plans, which include an eaterie, a community cafe and a 'dry' bar.
A new "high end" restaurant will offer job opportunities to ex-offenders, the long term unemployed and recovering addicts.
Charity leader and businessman Andy Preston is the man behind the plans – which include an eaterie, called The Fork in the Road, a community cafe called The Spoon and a ‘dry’ bar, which doesn’t serve alcohol, named Bar Sobrio.
The project’s location has been kept secret so far but can now be revealed as Middlesbrough’s Linthorpe Road , in the site formerly occupied by popular toy shop Romer Parrish.
Mr Preston, who said he chose the premises as it’s close to the town’s “booming” Baker and Bedford Street areas, believes there is nothing like the project anywhere in the UK.
He said: “The Fork in the Road will be amazing – it’s been hard work already but it’ll do incredible things.
"I'm convinced this is a truly unique project in the UK and will set a new national standard.
“The restaurant will be high end and will always deliver excellence.
“Alongside very experienced, top class professionals, we’ll train a small cohort of local people who need and deserve that precious opportunity to create a new life for themselves."
With planning permission recently granted, work is now under way on the two-storey project, which will be run as a not-for-profit social enterprise.
The Spoon and Bar Sobrio are set to open by August, with The Fork in the Road restaurant due for launch around six weeks later.
The restaurant will provide work for recovering addicts, ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed while The Spoon, which will not serve alcohol, will employ those not yet ready or able to work in an environment that serves alcohol.
Mr Preston – chairman of charitable movement, Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation – believes Bar Sobrio “will play an important role in Teesside’s recovery scene”.
The bar, which will also be made available to hire for private functions, won’t serve alcohol, but will be “a great place to mix with friends and meet people”.
It was planned with input from Dot Turton, chief executive of Middlesbrough-based recovery service Hope North East, and Rachel Burns of Middlesbrough Council.
The Fork in the Road's running costs will come from the CEO Sleepout charity, founded by Mr Preston, which inspires business leaders to raise funds by being sponsored to sleep rough for a night.
Fitting-out costs will also be funded through the Middlesbrough-based charity as well as the NHS, along with assistance from Jonathan Bowden of Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health and Wellbeing Department.
Since its Middlesbrough launch just three years ago, CEO Sleepout has raised around £800,000 from events across the country.
Funds raised elsewhere have helped to fight homelessness and poverty across the country, with 15% of all funds coming back to Teesside.
The above article by Mike Brown first published on gazettelive.co.uk in June, 2016.