Food for thought

We’re all set to launch a unique CEO Sleepout project in our Middlesbrough hometown – a not-for-profit eaterie, The Fork in the Road, providing catering job opportunities for ex-offenders, those in recovery from addiction and the long-term unemployed.

Two former offenders are among the restaurant’s first recruits, including a local teenager whose job as a kitchen porter is his first ever employment after serving a year in prison.

CEO Sleepout chairman Andy Preston said: “The Fork in the Road is dedicated to serving fantastic food but, even more importantly, changing lives.

“We’re liaising closely with the Probation Service and other authorities to identify the right people to support, whilst we’re also working with a local college to create a training programme that will prepare those who need help into employment to prepare for a working environment.

“We’ve created 11 jobs from the outset, but we plan to create many more volunteering, training and employment opportunities for some of the most vulnerable in our society over the next two years.

“Those we’re supporting will work alongside and learn from highly experienced and skilled restaurant staff to ensure our standards are high and they learn from the best.”

Preston said the 60-seat Fork in the Road will offer “classic British dishes of an exceptionally high standard” including steak and chips, fish and chips and a pie of the week, all with locally sourced ingredients.

He added: “This is a unique concept so there’s huge interest in the project, both locally and nationally, so we do expect to be busy.”

The Fork in the Road is based on Middlesbrough’s Linthorpe Road, in previously derelict premises once occupied by popular toy shop, Romer Parrish, opposite the town’s booming Baker Street and Bedford Street regeneration zone.

Andy recently revealed that the restaurant will be the first on Teesside to have a “no tips” policy, with customers instead being charged a slight premium on food to allow the restaurant to pay staff a higher wage.

Customers will also be offered a £10 “sharing dish” that, rather than featuring food, is an opportunity for them to make a donation to some of Teesside’s most vulnerable people.

The Fork in the Road’s is being funded by CEO Sleepout and Public Health England.

Opening above the restaurant is Bar Zero, a dry bar which Andy believes will play an important role in Teesside’s recovery scene, offering a great place to mix with friends and meet people.

The dry bar will also create volunteering, training and job opportunities for the local recovery community.

The project will also feature a community café that is due to open in the New Year.

For more information about the project visit

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