Leeds restaurant opens on Christmas Day with free food for lonely and homeless

It's the time of year when families come together - but for many Christmas Day can be a lonely and desperate experience.

Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 2:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:13 pm
21 December 2016....... Mo Rastegar, the owner of Zio in Horsforth, along with chef Mo Zanoubi and waiter Mario Costin opening the restaurant up on Christmas day and offering free, food, wine and presents for the homeless or people without any family to spend the day with. Picture Tony Johnson.

The YEP has reported this week on the efforts of kind-hearted Leeds folk to make sure families and people living on the streets don’t go hungry over the festive period.

And now an Italian restaurant, Zio in Horsforth, has joined in, offering free food, wine and some Christmas joy for the city’s homeless and the elderly without any family on December 25.

The restaurant will be open between midday and 4pm for Christmas lunch, with roast turkey, a starter and dessert forming part of a free three-course meal. There will be wine on offer, and staff have arranged for a singer and hopefully presents on the day.

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Head chef Mo Zanoubi, 34, will be cooking the food, while owner Mo Rastegar and his family will serve.

Mr Zanoubi, who has an 18-month-old baby, Leonardo, with wife Talita, said: “It is just something to do for the community. We were originally going to be closed but we have decided to do this event to see if we can make some people happy.

“This year was a hard one for my wife and I. Usually we spend time with the family at Christmas, but this year we don’t have family. My father-in-law passed away this year and my mother-in-law is in Italy. Because of the restaurant we can’t go over there.

“We thought that we wanted to have that joy on Christmas Day, so why not be in the restaurant with other people to have some happy time on Christmas Day. We want to do something for the community to make people happy.”

To book a table call the restaurant on 01132 586336.

Yesterday, the YEP reported that head teacher Nathan Atkinson has been providing breakfasts and Christmas meals at Richmond Hill Primary School despite term finishing last week.

There are a number of ways to give back to the people of Leeds and support people who need help over Christmas.

They include The Leeds Fund, which raises money for the homeless, families living in fuel poverty, people experiencing mental health issues, older people living alone or children in care.

A donation of £20 could provide a food box so a family doesn’t have to choose between turning on the heating or a hot dinner. For more details visit www.theleedsfund.org.uk.