Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston is confident that Linthorpe Road-based The Fork in the Road will go from strength to strength under its new charity owners, Recovery Connections.
The eatery is under new ownership three years after opening on Christmas Eve 2016 as Teesside’s first charity-run restaurant.
Ownership of The Fork in the Road has been transferred to registered charity Recovery Connections, from Middlesbrough-based national charity CEO Sleepout.
CEO Sleepout founder Mr Preston felt the time was right to hand over the keys of the restaurant to a charity that was able to give the necessary time and commitment to its success.
He said: “What we’ve achieved with The Fork in the Road is quite unique – we’ve helped to change lives by offering training and work opportunities to long-term unemployed, people with special needs and prisoners.
“My role was to get the project up and running – to start changing lives while serving great food.
“A new organisation was needed to come in and drive the project to achieve what it was capable of. Recovery Connections is a brilliant charity that changes lives.
“We’d been talking to for 15 months since I first identified them as a perfect candidate to push things to the next level and do more great work for the most vulnerable Middlesbrough people.”
Recovery Connections CEO Dot Turton said: “We will be continuing the brilliant work that The Fork in the Road has already been doing to get people back into employment through training and work experience.
“We believe everyone should have the opportunity to thrive in a supportive environment and The Fork is the perfect place for that to happen.”
Mrs Turton confirmed that Recovery Connections would be retaining all of the existing restaurant staff, while a new role of general manager has been created to oversee The Fork in the Road’s day-to-day running.
There are also plans to introduce a new daytime menu offering affordable, locally sourced food, cooked fresh on site, while the evening menu will retain the same high standard with a new twist.
From the outset, the restaurant has been run by catering professionals who are passionate about mentoring individuals that would not usually get the opportunity to work in this supportive setting and gain valuable experience.
The restaurant successfully launched The Fork in the Road Academy in conjunction with Stockton Riverside College, with dozens of long-term unemployed Teessiders receiving formal raining and qualifications designed to help them get back into the working world.
Further exciting plans for the building will be revealed in 2020.
To find out more about Recovery Connections, visit www.recoveryconnections.org.uk