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Leonardo DiCaprio delights fans on visit to Edinburgh eatery that helps homeless

Published 17/11/2016

Leonardo DiCaprio was invited to visit the latest Social Bite venture by co-founder Josh Littlejohn before he speaks at the Scottish Business Awards on Thursday
Leonardo DiCaprio was invited to visit the latest Social Bite venture by co-founder Josh Littlejohn before he speaks at the Scottish Business Awards on Thursday

Movie star Leonardo DiCaprio was mobbed by fans as he visited an Edinburgh restaurant that helps the homeless.

On his first trip to Scotland, the Oscar winner was invited to the latest Social Bite venture by co-founder Josh Littlejohn, following in the footsteps of fellow actor George Clooney.

Hundreds of fans braved typically cold and wet weather to greet DiCaprio when he stopped for lunch at the Home eatery in Queensferry Street in the city's west end shortly before midday on Thursday.

The Revenant star arrived in a people carrier and stepped out to cheers from fans, many of whom had been waiting for several hours to catch a glimpse of him.

Hundreds of pictures were taken and he stood for a couple of minutes at two pens set up on the street to sign autographs for those gathered.

He waved again as he left the restaurant at around 1.30pm and dozens of screaming fans rushed on to the road around his chauffeur-driven car, delaying its departure.

He continued smiling and waving as the car eventually moved away.

Fan Carol Honeyman left her house about 50 miles away in Larbert at 5am to see DiCaprio.

She carried a large canvas of a scene from The Departed, which the movie star signed.

She said: "I don't really know why I do these things but it was so worth it.

"I got this canvas signed before by Ray Winstone, and now it's complete with Leo's.

"I've actually met him before when I went down to the Baftas in London but it's just nicer to say I've seen him closer to home. He's a star."

Home is a new establishment set up by Mr Littlejohn and Dean Gassabi, who owns the Maison Bleue restaurants.

It was set up to provide training and employment for members of the Social Bite Academy, a four-year paid course for homeless people.

Customers are also encouraged to ''pay forward'' meals for the homeless, who can attend a special meal service for those sleeping rough every Monday afternoon.

Biffy Mackay, 28, a trainee chef with Social Bite, helped prepare the meal for DiCaprio.

She said it was the "nerve-racking" but was delighted to get a signed note from the star reading "To Biffy, all the best" after meeting him inside the restaurant.

She added: "He was so nice, so down to earth. I told him I've loved him since I was nine and that I did a project about him at school, he said 'that's so cool'."

Social Bite has cafes in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen which operate the same "pay forward" scheme and employ a number of people who have previously been homeless.

Clooney visited an Edinburgh branch last year, and spoke at the Scottish Business Awards which Mr Littlejohn also set up.

DiCaprio will deliver an address during the awards ceremony on Thursday night.

Mr Littlejohn described DiCaprio's visit and support of Social Bite's charitable work as "an honour".

"For Leo to choose to highlight this initiative whilst in Scotland is very humbling and we are grateful to him for raising the awareness," he said.

Elise Lovell, who won a competition to join DiCaprio at lunch, said he was "absolutely charming".

She added: "It was quite surreal but a fantastic couple of hours."

Donald Trump's election win was mentioned over lunch and Ms Lovell said DiCaprio "kind of laughed and said it was definitely a shock to a lot of people."

Radio host Chris Evans and comedian Rob Brydon also popped into the restaurant ahead of hosting the business awards.

Awards chairman Sir Tom Hunter said: "Leonardo is not only a famous actor, he is a pioneering environmentalist and committed philanthropist whose charitable work is making a global impact."

Speaking after the visit, Sir Tom said it was an "entertaining" lunch.

He told Sky News: "You never know what you're going to get. You see this film persona but you never know what the human being is going to be, but I'm glad to say he (DiCaprio) was great."

At the awards ceremony this evening DiCaprio spoke about climate change and environmental issues.

Giving his thoughts on the outcome of the US election he said: "I will say It's been a very interesting election and being a staunch environmentalist that realises what an urgent crisis climate change is, that if this Trump administration follows through with a lot of things they promised on the campaign trail we have a lot of work to do.

"There's been mention of dismantling of the Paris agreement, taking away funding from the UN, drilling again and unfortunately there's a lot to talk about over the next four years but I think that the environmental movement has already spoken out loudly that we're not going to allow certain things to happen."

He also spoke about his relationship with director Martin Scorsese, saying he was very important to him.

It is believed to be the actor's first visit to Scotland and he talked about his plans to see some of the sights around Edinburgh on Friday.

DiCaprio has put a Rolex from his watch collection into the auction at the event.

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