Comfort Inn City Centre Armidale restaurant supports Ezidi refugee community

The restaurant space at Comfort Inn City Centre Armidale has relaunched as The Ezidi Place,
in a social enterprise partnership with Plate it Forward to provide career paths and training
for Iraqi refugees.

Comfort Inn City Centre Armidale General manager Phillip Mitchell said the hotel’s restaurant
space had been sitting empty and with no one on the team with a food and beverage
background, they went out into the community looking for something different.
“We found a young cook in the Ezidi refugee community and approached him to see if he
wanted to create a restaurant around their traditional cuisine. There were a few setbacks
during lockdowns, but we’re now in a good position with nine refugees working at the
restaurant while they undertake their TAFE training,” he says.

Armidale was setup as a refugee settlement city in 2018 and is now home to more than 600
Ezidi, who have immigrated from Northern Iraq.

Mr Mitchell consulted with Sydney based social enterprise Plate It Forward for advice on how
to create a training program, which quickly progressed to a partnership. Now one dollar
from each meal sold goes to the charity to support the training of restaurant staff.

“We’ve had great buy in from the Armidale community, and now have the added benefit of
having an amazing restaurant attached to the hotel to cater to our guests and the wider
community,” he says.

“Food is such a simple way to break down barriers and get to know and acknowledge each
other. The incidental contact of working in the restaurant and interacting with our guests
makes a big difference to how people feel in the community.”

Choice Hotels Asia Pacific CEO Trent Fraser said he was excited to see social enterprises and
innovation in hospitality delivered within the group.

“We are incredibly proud of the work Phil has done within his community, which is testament
to the values he holds in his business and sets a great example of what can be achieved,” Mr
Fraser said

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