Chef and restaurateur Gary Usher has announced plans to launch a £200,000 crowdfunding campaign to fund for his fourth site, Wreckfish, which is expected to open in Liverpool next year.
The 2013 Menu of the Year Catey award winner announced the plans on Twitter, where he has also asked followers to help him choose a name.
It follows from the success of his third restaurant, Hispi, which opened in October in Didsbury, Manchester, after he secured £60,000 through crowdfunding and £100,000 from the bank.
Also in 2014, Usher raised £100,000 via crowdfunding to open Burnt Truffle in Heswall, on the Wirral – the second site of his bistro enterprise.
However, this fundraising will differ from former campaigns as guests will be invited to try the food and explore the site before pledging.
Speaking to The Caterer, Usher said: “That way we can gauge if people want a Hispi, Burnt [Truffle] or Sticky [Walnut] in Liverpool. When the bill comes, diners will be able to pay what they want, and it will go straight into the crowdfunding pot. Of course, we will have a few issues. There’s no water or electricity in the building, but that’s not going to stop us. There will be a few hurdles, but I think it will be part of its charm.”
The pop-up events are due to kick off in January 2017, with the crowdfunding campaign to launch in March. However, Usher admits there is not a solid plan in place yet regarding the development.
“It’s really important for people to know that I don’t have a plan or any money, and we know that it’s a risk, but why not? We wouldn’t be doing this if Hispi wasn’t doing so well, but it’s had such a good start and we have such a good team – they’re nailing it. It’s busy and profitable, and that makes me feel confident to carry on doing what I want to do.”
Usher will be asking supporters to raise £200,000 for this project and he wants to fund the fit-out of the restaurant and the kitchen, rather than have to rely on finance.
“I don’t think it’s possible to raise that much,” he said, “but I think there’s a hell of a lot of fun and spirit involved in doing a pop-up in a derelict building. We would love to open in Liverpool – it’s a stunning building and I fell in love with it straight away.
“We can do it. We know it will work and it will be busy; we have proved that with the other three, but we just haven’t got any money for it.”
Usher confirmed that the restaurant will follow the same structure as the existing bistros, in that it will be “really homely and rustic in a non-try hard way”.
The announcement comes shortly after Usher’s plans to open in London fell through.
Usher owns three restaurants: Sticky Walnut, which opened in 2011 in Chester, Cheshire; Burnt Truffle in Heswall on the Wirral, which opened in 2015, and Hispi in Didsbury, Manchester, which opened in October this year.
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