Gary Usher responds to backlash over £19.50 burger in new pub

06 February 2023 by
Gary Usher responds to backlash over £19.50 burger in new pub

Gary Usher has defended the price of his menu after a backlash to the announcement his new pub would be charging £19.50 for a burger.

The chef took to social media to respond ahead of the launch of the White Horse in Churton, near Chester, on 3 March.

The pub opened for bookings last week and a sample menu on its website lists a dry-aged beef burger with Comté cheese, mustard, relish, pickle, and skinny fries for £19.50.

In a video on Twitter, Usher said comments that his prices should match other pubs in the area were "just ridiculous".

He said: "We have to give ourselves a bit of credit for who we are and what we've achieved and how we've got to where we've got. This pub isn't our first venture, this is number eight and we're pretty bloody successful at what we do so you have to give us some credit and give us some confidence to make the right decisions for this.

"I've been working my whole life in this industry, this is my sector, this is what I specialise in, I'm an expert at it…to be told things like you should be comparing it to the business down the road is just ridiculous, that's not how you price up a menu."

The White Horse will be the first pub for Usher's Elite Bistros group, which runs seven restaurants and a catering arm, and comes after the team raised over £200,000 in a crowdfunding campaign last year to support the opening.

He said: "Like all the businesses in Elite Bistros if one doesn't work it could topple the whole group, so it has to work…we love looking after people, we're in hospitality it's what we do.

"However, if you don't want to come that's also fine. There's an option not to buy that burger, there's an option not to even come to the pub. It's not for you, if you don't want it that's fine."

The chef pointed out that the business was opening amid the rising cost of living, inflation and ongoing energy prices rises.

Price inflation in hospitality businesses rose to the 11.4% in December, the highest level recorded by the Office for National Statistics for more than 30 years, as operators were forced to pass on surging costs to customers.

In January BrewDog co-founder James Watt said a pint of the group's Punk IPA beer would cost £27.50 if the bar chain put up prices in line with soaring energy bills.

Usher said: "That burger's not going to get cheaper, it's going to get more expensive. If you're not aware of what is going on around you and what prices are, I can't help you."

The chef's video received widespread support from other hospitality operators on Twitter.

Tom Kerridge tweeted that Usher was speaking the "gospel" while chef Stephen Andrews, chef-patron at the Fish and Forest restaurant in York, wrote that he was "spot on".

Chef Nick Nairn tweeted: "This is where hospitality is right now. I've been saying for a while that the £20 burger is coming! Well said Gary."

The Hispanist restaurant in Hull tweeted: "Is this the only industry where people complain about the price of something they're never gonna buy? You don't see people complaining on an Audi post that their latest car costs £70k."

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