Gary Usher ditches set menus at Elite Bistros due to ‘spiralling inflation'

06 June 2023 by
Gary Usher ditches set menus at Elite Bistros due to ‘spiralling inflation'

Gary Usher's Elite Bistros will be serving à la carte dishes from now on after the chef said that it had become "impossible" to offer a balanced set menu amid the cost of living crisis.

In a video posted on Twitter last night (5 June), Usher revealed he and the team have made some "big changes across the board" after his business had seen spend per head drop by 25% in recent months due to soaring costs.

He said: "In the pandemic we changed all of our menus to a set menu format. It felt like the right thing to do at the time and it gave us the opportunity to streamline the business and keep control of everything. We need to adapt again and what we're adapting to this time is the spiralling cost of inflation and the cost of living crisis. Our menu just keeps going up because of it and we hate that."

Usher explained that it had become "impossible" to have balance in a set menu because of the obligation to "include things like lamb rump on a main menu or chocolate in a dessert", which has caused prices to "keep going up and up".

"We don't like it, so we are changing all of our menus to an à la carte format where every single item is individually priced, so if you wanted to have the aubergine starter followed by the chicken main course and the set yogurt dessert, you would be paying much less than the person who had the meat starter and the lamb rump main and the chocolate dessert," he said.

Usher added that it was "big for us as a business" and a "very scary" move, as he expected spend per head in the business to "drop massively".

However, he stressed Elite Bistros "want to be accessible to so many people, so we feel this is right for us as a business and we feel this is right for our guests too".

Elite Bistros' sites include Sticky Walnut in Hoole, Chester, the first solo restaurant for Usher, which opened in 2011; Burnt Truffle in Heswall on the Wirral, which opened in July 2015; Hispi in Didsbury, south Manchester; Wreckfish in Liverpool; Pinion in Prescot; and Kala in Manchester, which opened in 2019.

À la carte dishes at Kala feature chicken schnitzel with Coronation-style butter (£18.50) and harissa-roasted lamb rump (£34.50).

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