A new vegan fine-dining restaurant is set to open in a maximum-security prison in Scotland.
The place will be run by prisoners and ex-convicts offering them a second chance in life through embracing the vegan lifestyle.
The restaurant named Yew Tree will be set in an abandoned social club in the prison building. It will start as a luxury cafe bistro with further plans to transform into a fine dining restaurant.
The project has been launched by a local social enterprise Starting Step and backed by the Scottish Prison Service. The restaurant’s name was inspired by historic trees found within the grounds of Prison Castle Huntly near Dundee.
The new business venture will help inmates and people with convictions by giving them a second chance in life. The business will provide jobs for people outside the criminal justice system and offer help to people with alcohol and drug-related mental health difficulties.
Commenting on a new venture to Daily Record Starting Step said: “Trainees will be able to develop their skills and reap the benefits of a real work environment.
“They will be able to interact with members of the public, where there will be no attached stigmas of their past mistakes.
“This will bring an added positive outcome of breaking down barriers between community and clients.”
CEO Dodie Piddock said: “I’ve worked with charities and the third sector for some time and I had always wondered why Scotland has such an appalling number of people in prison.
“We’re one of the worst in Europe, per capita.
“I did a lot of work on focus groups and I found that the vast majority of people in prison need a second chance. I came away from this thinking, how do we do this?”
Initially, the prison service thought she was joking when they heard of her plans for the abandoned social club.
“They probably thought I was bonkers,” she said. “That’s the usual response I get.”
The restaurant will offer customers a completely vegan menu, using locally-grown vegetables.
“There are many reasons for this,” said Ms Piddock. “There is a growing need for chefs that are able to produce high-quality vegan food.
“What is important about this project is the end result. I don’t want this to be just another training programme; I want to do something more than give them hope.
“It will be beautiful. And hopefully, it will be something Perth can be proud of."