Gary Usher has crowdfunded £123,000 of a £200,000 target just 12 hours after launching the Kickstarter campaign.
Usher described the crowdfund as a "plan B" after cancelling an equity-based crowdfund last week, the group's first equity-based crowdfund, which raised more than £500,000 of a £750,000 target but did not reach the target figure.
The chef-restaurateur is now seeking to raise £200,000 on Kickstarter over the next week to refurbish and reopen his first Elite Bistros pub, the White Horse in Churton, Cheshire.
After launching at 9pm yesterday, the crowdfund had 132 backers and raised nearly £27,000 in just five minutes. Rewards include inclusion on the founders' wall, dinner boxes, aprons, private dinner parties, exclusive hire of the pub, tickets to the opening party and lunch or dinner at Elite Bistro venues.
The project currently has 697 backers and will close on 7 November. Should it succeed, the pub is hoped to open in the new year with bedrooms planned for the business for 2024.
Usher said on the Kickstarter launch page: "We had three huge projects that we really believed in and we wanted to get off the ground. We were looking to raise quite a large sum and so doing that through an equity-based crowdfund seemed like the right thing to do, so we joined Seedrs. But for one reason or another it didn't work out. So we cancelled the campaign and we're going back to what we know best...
"We're putting the money into the kitchen and updating some of the furnishings to bring the pub back to life. We won't be tearing things out willy-nilly. We wanting to keep the character of the place and that cosy country pub feeling, whilst also making sure it works for service. Most of the work will be in the kitchen to get that ready for the team and making sure we can deliver an Elite Bistro experience."
The winner of last year's Restaurateur of the Year – Independent Catey is no stranger to crowdfunding, having raised £744,796 between 2015 and 2021 (exceeding the set target every time) to grow to six bistros and an events company, all offering approachable, affordable, quality modern bistro food. He now employs 150 people and the business has an annual turnover of £6m.
The business also has plans for a new tapas concept, Joya, and is developing the first floor of Deva House, the Elite Bistro Events headquarters in Chester, for a development and masterclass kitchen.
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. All sites apart from Sticky Walnut were crowdfunded.