Pop-up prison restaurant will train inmates in hospitality roles to combat staff shortages

By Fiona Frawley

May 18, 2022 at 5:00pm

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'The Open Door' pop-up was launched in Cork Prison with an aim to offer inmates a path back into the workforce.

The initiative could also assist in combatting the mass staff shortage across Ireland's hospitality sector.

The restaurant concept has seen six prisoners ranging in age from late teens to early 30s undertake an eight week training course in culinary and hospitality skills.

According to The Independent, it is hoped the programme will be adopted by other Irish prisons.

Prison Governor Peter O'Brien told The Independent: "This project will enhance the rehabilitative and employment options for all those who work and train here in the years to come.”

The pop-up restaurant is located in Cork Prison's education unit, and trial food service events have been supported by hospitality management students from MTU.

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While the initiative aims to encourage inmates nearing release to pursue further training, education and employment opportunities, it is also hoped that it may combat staffing issues in the Irish tourism and hospitality sector.

One inmate participating in the course told RTÉ:

Even though we are incarcerated, we are in jail, we actually got to do something with it. We are not just looking back saying 'what did we do? We did nothing'.

We are coming out of here with a qualification. We are coming out of here with experience.

The pop-up is a collaboration between the Department of Tourism & Hospitality at MTU, IASIO and Cork Education and Training Board.

Header image via Shutterstock

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