Inmates Serving Hot Plates?

It’s 5:00 pm and you’re stuck in rush hour traffic. All you can think about is what’s for dinner. You don’t feel like cooking, so you scan all of the nearby restaurants in your head. Luby’s? Not fun enough. Taco Bell? Not healthy enough. Ruth’s Chris? Too fancy. The Clink Cymru…complete with delicious cuisine prepared by inmates???? WTH?! This is just what’s about to happen at Cardiff Prison in Wales, UK. Award-winning chef Alberto Crisci. All dishes are prepared and served by inmates…inside the prison. Gone are the days of nasty prison food. These inmates have skills in the kitchen and are ready to prove it to willing customers.

Here’s what Alberto Crisci had to say about this risky business: “We want to try and stand on our own two feet as a dining experience and be seen not as competition by other restaurants, but as a sort of recruitment agency so prisoners can go on to find work in quality establishment, develop pride and motivation and provide well for themselves and their families.” The mantra of the restaurant is quality food, with no gimmicks. The Clink Cymru will have its grand opening exactly one week from today on September 19, 2012. It will be fully staffed with 30 inmates who will be paid £14 (Approximately $22.50) for a 40 hour work week. Oddly enough, sex offenders are the only inmates not allowed to seek employment here. But those who are eligible must have between 6 and 18 months left to serve on their sentence. The Clink is actually the second restaurant of its kind after HMP (Her Majesty’s Prison Service) High Down in Surrey.

Several red flags were raised when I first read this article. First of all, people can deal with an open secret, but how many people will really go to a restaurant where they know for sure prisoners are serving their food? More than likely, murderers, thieves, and sex offenders have all served us food at a restaurant before, but we really don’t know so that makes it easier to deal with. After all, everyone deserves a second chance right? But what happens if one of the workers gets upset and decides to take a knife to a customer??? The inmates are chosen as Category D, those least likely to escape or pose high risks. Hmmm…. Plus, even though a world renown chef owns the place, how much training has been done to make sure the employees can actually cook? Surely, Alberto Crisci isn’t preparing all the meals himself.

The Clink Cymru will only be open for breakfast and lunch. I’m sure dinner wasn’t an initial thought, since the night could provide an easier getaway for prisoners. Could you see yourself eating dinner at a restaurant like this?

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