New year, new hope. The promise of a fresh start is what makes January 1st something to celebrate. There is no better time, then, to talk about a downtown Fresno cafe coming in early 2016 that encompasses the hope of a new year. Steve and Carolyn Ocheltree will soon open the doors to Tree of Life, bringing farm-fresh dishes to diners and employment to men and women looking to restart their lives after completing drug and alcohol treatment programs. A fresh start for customers and employees alike.
Although the Ocheltree’s have long thought about starting a business that would help people leaving treatment programs, their plan became personal a few years ago when their son entered the Fresno Rescue Mission’s recovery program to treat an addiction to meth. Now clean and attending school locally, he’s helping his parents plan (and taste test) the menu for Tree of Life.
Speaking of the menu, Carolyn is currently hard at work creating homemade soups, salads, breads and other hearty dishes using locally sourced ingredients, a nod to a childhood of “gleaning” fruits from local orchards. She hopes to include many vegetarian options and eventually branch out into wholesale jams and jellies.
And while the couple has no previous experience operating a restaurant, Carolyn says that raising four sons “I’ve always run a bed and breakfast.”
Here, the Ocheltree’s talk about their family’s long history with the Fresno Rescue Mission, their vision for Tree of Life and how helping people and serving Valley-grown food can be the perfect combination.