Middlesbrough’s newest restaurant provides a “Fork in the Road” for ex-offenders

Social Enterprise Fork in the Road

The Fork in the Road, Middlesbrough’s new restaurant, is offering a new beginning for recovering addicts, ex-offenders and the long term unemployed.

Teesside charity leader Andrew Preston is behind the plans which include a restaurant, dry bar and community cafe.

The 60-seat restaurant offers classic dishes to a high standard using locally sourced ingredients.

Fork in the Road works with the local Probation Service and authorities to find eligible people to support.

The restaurant has already hired two ex-offenders as kitchen staff, offering them the chance to integrate back into the community.

A Redcar teenager was hired as a kitchen porter and it is his first employment since his one year prison sentence.

Fork in the Road staff preparing for opening night

The charity venture has created 11 jobs so far.

Mr Preston hopes to create more jobs through training and employment opportunities for the most vulnerable people in society.

The Fork in the Road has a no tipping policy but charges premium prices in order to pay their employees a higher wage.

Businessman Mr Preston believes there is no project like this within the UK.

Mr Preston said: “My mission is to change lives for the better.”

The community cafe will be called The Spoon and will be a great opportunity for Middlesbrough’s people to meet and socialise.

The dry bar, which opens on the January 26, will be called Bar Sobrio.

Bar Sobrio will offer jobs to people who are not yet ready to work in an environment that serves alcohol.

Mr Preston believes the dry bar will play an “important role in Teesside’s recovery scene”.

The bar will be available to book for private functions but will not serve alcohol.

Mr Preston said: “I’ve been working for five  years with organisations which look into problems with homelessness and addiction.”

“We thought a dry bar would be great for Teesside’s recovery scene.

“It would create an environment for recovering addicts to socialise and receive mentoring.

“We did quite a bit of research on dry bars and realised that they regularly lose profit.

“We were all against the idea but I wanted to find a way to make it sustainable.

“So I hatched the plan to create a restaurant which works with the dry bar so it can share staff and distribute the profits between ventures.”

The high-end restaurant situated on Linthorpe Road  opened on December 24.

Andrew Preston is chairman of both Teesside Philanthropic Society and CEO Sleepout.

CEO Sleepout Durham

CEO Sleepout funds more than half of the money to enable the non-profit social enterprise Fork in the Road and Public Health England also provide financial support.

CEO Sleepout launched 3 years ago and has raised over £800,000 from events across the country.

The charity aims to inspire business leaders to sleep rough for one night in order to raise funds for the homeless and vulnerable people in society.

CEO Sleepout is now a national event with 15% of all funds raised coming back to Teesside.

The charity have big events coming up in St James’ Park, Durham Cathedral and Lancashire Cricket Club.

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