Social Bite opens restaurant for homeless with the backing of a Michelin-starred chef

Web home launch l-r josh littlejohn dean gassabi david wither martin wishart simon littlejohn

Josh Littlejohn of Social Bite, Dean Gassabi of Maison Bleue, David Wither of Montpelier Group, Martin Wishart and Simon Littlejohn

Regular customers will be able to pay meals forward for homeless people who will also be offered training with top chef Martin Wishart and could be given the chance of a job

Paul Cardwell's photo

15th August 2016 by Paul Cardwell 1 Comment

Social Bite, the social enterprise sandwich shop chain, has teamed up with some of Scotland’s best restauranteurs to launch a new eating venue in a bid to further help homeless people.

Restaurant Home will launch in mid-September on Queensferry Street in the west end of Edinburgh.

It will be owned by the not-for-profit sandwich shop chain set up by social entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn, who describes it as the "evolution" of Social Bite, and will be operated by Dean Gassabi of the long-established Maison Bleue restaurants.

A supergroup of esteemed Scottish restauranteurs make up the board of the new venture. Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart, David Wither of Montpelier Group and experienced restauranteur Simon Littlejohn - who is also Josh’s father - all join together with Gassabi and Littlejohn in supporting the venture.

We see this restaurant as the next evolution of the Social Bite concept.

With around 70 covers for lunch and dinner, the restaurant will offer an Auld Alliance mix of French and Scottish cuisine similar in style and value to the current Maison Bleue offering. 

Alongside a core professional staff, Home will provide training and employment programmes for members of the Social Bite Academy, the charity’s four year, paid course for homeless people.

Diners will also be encouraged to "pay forward" meals for the homeless. Each Monday from 3pm-5pm, the restaurant will open for a special service for the homeless.  

Wishart will guest chef once a quarter and will be creating monthly specials for the menu. He will also be offering spaces at his Cook School to members of the Social Bite Academy.

Josh Littlejohn said: “I am grateful to these influential restauranteurs for supporting us to make this the best restaurant it can be.

“We see this restaurant as the next evolution of the Social Bite concept. It's a place where diners can come for an amazing dining experience but also support some of the most vulnerable people in our society at the same time.

“We will be inviting the homeless community into the restaurant every Monday from 3pm- 5pm to eat with dignity - not to offer a hand out, but a hand up - to employment, stability and self-worth.”

Dean Gassabi of Maison Bleue said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Josh and the team at Social Bite on this exciting new venture.

“We will bring all of the ingredients that makes Maison Bleue successful - fresh produce, great value and excellent customer service - to create a fantastic dining experience.

“The idea of making a big difference in the community is something that was of big appeal to me and all of my team here, and we look forward to welcoming diners next month.”

30th June 2019 by United Delete

Its such a shame this project did not work - but as someone who worked for a social enterprise restauratn and art gallery for over 10 years, I see it coming.The honest truth is, people dont want to served by homeless people. We tried to integrate a workforce in the kitchen and restaurant, but it failed everytime. (even for just work experience)The paying public just cannot see past the 'homeless' tag. Probably best to not shout about it, and just do it, and you'd have more success.The Foyer Restaurant + Art Gallery was a success for over 10 years, because we didn't shout about it, we just did it - most of the customers did not even know that all the profit we made, went back into supporting disadvantaged people with housing, skills, work experience, therapy and eventually employment.Its a shame, but that is the way people think - those with money to spend on a rich social life, don't want to be reminded of those who are left out.