Unique new Middlesbrough restaurant, The Fork in the Road – made possible by those who took part in the Tees Business-backed CEO Sleepout – is set to be the first on Teesside with a “no tips” policy.
The Fork in the Road will offer catering job opportunities for ex-offenders, those in recovery from addiction and the long-term unemployed when it opens before Christmas.
Businessman and charity leader Andy Preston, who is behind the not-for-profit social enterprise, says that instead of tips customers will be charged a slight premium on food to allow the restaurant to pay staff a higher wage.
And he also revealed that the high-end eaterie will offer a £10 “sharing dish” with a difference – as it will have no food on it.
Rather than offering customers tapas food, The Fork in the Road’s sharing dish will be an opportunity for visitors to donate £10 to charity in aid of some of Teesside’s most vulnerable people.
Andy said: “The Fork in the Road is all about awesome food helping to changing lives.
“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.
“Our restaurant will exist to provide a helping hand to those Teessiders who have lost their way and need help to get back into employment.
“Giving a tip in a restaurant is a convention that’s become a little controversial, especially when some don’t allow their staff to keep all of the money.
“So rather than those we employ relying on tips to make a decent living, we’ll charge slightly more for each dish on our menu, allowing us in turn to pay our staff higher wages.
“Equally, people love to see a sharing dish on a restaurant menu but ours will all about making a donation to help others, funding the training, employment or accommodation for some of our most vulnerable local people.”
Work is now progressing fast on the restaurant, which will be 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.
The Fork in the Road’s is being funded by Middlesbrough-based national charity CEO Sleepout together with Public Health England.
The charity inspires business leaders to raise funds by being sponsored to sleep out for a night.
Nearly 60 Teesside businessmen and women took part in an event organised by Tees Business on Preston Park Museum’s Victorian street earlier this year, raising £45,000 towards the cause.
Under Andy’s guidance as its founder-chairman, CEO Sleepout has now raised more than £1m for organisations that support those affected by homelessness and poverty.
More than 1,000 businesspeople, MP’s and clergy have given up their beds to sleep out in landmark locations such as Wembley, Lord’s and The Oval in London, Newcastle’s St James’ Park, Manchester’s Old Trafford cricket ground and both the Riverside Stadium and Preston Park Museum here on Teesside.