New restaurant in Fresno intends to feed more than just your appetite

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno couple is opening a unique new restaurant but it's meant to feed more than just its customers' stomachs.

Brenda Romito takes pleasure in letting the light in to her house. After 20 years spent in the dark, as a meth addict Romito brought her family to Rescue the Children. "Just being honest and open, knowing that it's going to be okay. Nobody's gonna judge you. It's healing."

Her healing included treatment and learning job skills, like in computer class where she met instructor Carolyn Ocheltree-- who's now her boss. Romito is one of the first employees of Ocheltree's Tree of Life Cafe, the Fresno Rescue Missions newest partner. "They want to gain employment, they want to work hard, they want to give back. And helping them find a good fit, sometimes it's a first step," said Deborah Torres, Fresno Rescue Mission.

Ocheltree and her husband Steve started Tree Of Life Cafe to help people leaving treatment programs transition into regular society by hiring them. "They get clean, they stay sober, they're ready to be a productive part of society-- it's hard for them to get a job. People won't give them a chance," explained Steve.

The couple has a very personal connection. "Our second son, who went through the Fresno Rescue Mission, and, was addicted to meth before he went through and was helped and we have had a heart ever since then especially," said Ocheltree.

They just signed the lease for the space for their restaurant, on Kern Street across from the Fresno County Election Office.

Their website shows farm fresh produce and homemade pies. Their idea is generating a lot of buzz.

The Ocheltrees were finalists for Downtown Fresno's business plan competition and awarded a $2,000 from Fresno Pacific University's Spark Tank. "It warms my heart. I'm gonna cry-- Um, it makes me happy people out there care about girls, and they're willing to give them a fresh start. It's hard out there," said Romito.

The cafe is schedule to open February or March of next year.
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