Martyn Edwards tells us how his restaurant is helping the homeless.
A few weeks ago I was browsing twitter and saw a post from a local restaurant offering a free Christmas dinner to the homeless. I was really moved by this lovely gesture so I thought I’d go down there to find out more.
Chicken Peri Peri on Gloucester Street is a welcoming place with bright, fun decor in a Marvel comics theme. You can eat at a table by the bar or in a comfy booth with your own TV screen and choose from an extensive menu of dishes named after superheroes. I asked the owner, Martyn Edwards, what led him to open a restaurant.
Martyn: I used to be a painter & decorator. I actually decorated Momo’s, the previous restaurant at this address. After Momo’s closed down I came past just out of curiosity to see what would be taking its place and really to see if there was any more decorating work available, but after chatting with the landlord he pretty much gave me the keys on the spot and I decided to open a restaurant! I had no background in catering but I knew there was no other Peri Peri place in the area so that was that! With the help of two great chefs we’ve been going almost four years now.
So apart from chicken, what else do you serve?
Martyn: We have a range of chicken dishes, burgers, Sunday roasts and vegetarian and vegan alternatives. We offer a delivery service in the Stroud area too, so we can bring a hot roast dinner right to your door. Occasionally we do man vs food challenges: a 100 nugget challenge; a 4ft wrap challenge; a hot wings challenge – I warn people not to try that one. The chili sauce we use has 13 million Scoville heat units (SHU). For comparison, the world’s official hottest chili pepper – the Carolina Reaper – has 2,200,000 SHU. Basically cancel any other plans you have for the evening because that one’s going to hurt.
That sounds scary! So you have a lot of fun here, but you have a more serious side too. What gave you the idea to offer free meals to the homeless?
Martyn: Last March when we had the cold spell I was coming in to work one day and saw a man under a blanket out in the snow and I knew I had to do something, so I brought him in for a hot meal. We put a sign in the window saying ‘homeless eat free’, and soon we had the police and emergency services phoning us saying they’d heard what we were doing and asking if they could bring people in. We decided to do it again for Christmas and this time our Cash & Carry offered us a few things to help out. I get a buzz from being able to give back to my community this way. We won an award from Stroud Town Council for social inclusion in May 2018 and the council and library class us as a ‘homeless-friendly’ business.
Chicken Peri Peri is at 21 Gloucester Street, Stroud. 01453 298612 or order online via the website www.chickenperiperi.co.uk