Ebury by Fat Macy’s in Pimlico is a neighbourhood restaurant with a difference – as well as serving a contemporary Middle Eastern-inspired sharing menu, the restaurant provides employment, training and support to people who have been living in temporary accommodation.
Through a 200-hour programme, trainees learn from professional chefs, work in front-of-house roles and help to run the business. In roughly a year, trainees earn a deposit for a rented home, build their confidence and gain valuable work experience with the Fat Macy’s team providing ongoing support for up to two years as they transition into independent living. The programme has provided 3,600 hours of work experience and £35k in housing deposits among 33 people.
Founded in 2016, Fat Macy’s is a social enterprise that uses its restaurant, Ebury, and its catering business to tackle homelessness. The innovative model was devised by social entrepreneur Meg Doherty while working with young people in the North London YMCA, in response to seeing how the benefit system trapped people in temporary accommodation by cutting their support when they started employment. “Our approach has the potential to be expanded nationwide” says Doherty, adding “for customers to do something good, all they need to do is to eat a meal. It’s that simple”.
Having started life as a roving supper club in 2016, Fat Macy’s quickly evolved into an established catering business, working with the likes of Coutts, L'Oréal and UBS, before opening Ebury restaurant in January this year. “We now have a place to call home for the Fat Macy’s family, where we can work 1:1 with trainees and every service adds to their training hours,” says Doherty.
The vision behind the Middle Eastern-inspired menu comes from Fat Macy’s business director, Nathalie Moukarzel. Formerly of Moro, Morito and Little Otik in Berlin, Moukarzel drew from the homely Lebanese dishes she grew up with and her passion for locally-produced, seasonal cooking. She describes the food as “unfussy but exciting, and made from simple, beautiful ingredients”, and the philosophy behind the menu, to provide trainees with recipes that they can continue to cook as they move forward in their lives.
The menu at Ebury by Fat Macy’s is light, colourful and full of popular Middle Eastern flavours. Dishes like aubergine maghmour, scallops with arak, labneh and chilli butter feature alongside crowd favourites like halloumi fries and toasted flatbreads. The restaurant also sources ingredients and stocks artisan produce from other London social enterprises like Toast Ales, Rubies in the Rubble and Good & Proper Tea.
Having opened their doors in South London, Ebury by Fat Macy’s is delivering a unique dining experience that is founded on challenging the perceptions of homelessness and providing a clear pathway to employment and secure accommodation. In the words of Doherty, “we’re using food as a vehicle for change”.
Ebury by Fat Macy’s
43 Ebury Bridge Road, SW1W 8DX.