Chef raises more than £200,000 on Kickstarter to open new bistro

Gary Usher will open his fourth crowdfunded restaurant in September

Chester-based chef Gary Usher has succeeded in raising more than £200,000 on Kickstarter to open his fourth restaurant

British chef Gary Usher will open his fourth crowdfunded restaurant, Wreckfish, in Liverpool next September, having reached his £200,000 target on the Kickstarter platform on Tuesday night, two days ahead of the close off date.

The project, which launched on May 2nd, was supported by more than 1,450 backers who had pledged in excess of £205,000 by Wednesday afternoon – the largest sum ever raised on Kickstarter for a restaurant project in the UK.

“This is the most special thing I’ve ever been a part of. From a pop-up in a derelict building that definitely shouldn’t have worked, to raising over £200k in 28 days, it’s been an absolutely mental few months,” Usher told his Kickstarter supporters.

The chef is not the only member of his family to have successfully harnessed crowdfunding – his brother Shaun Usher is editor of the Letters of Note website and books, which he financed with the crowdfunding publisher Unbound.


‘Pay what you want’

Usher, who already runs Sticky Walnut in Chester, Burnt Truffle in Heswall on the Wirral and Hispi in Greater Manchester, launched the fundraising drive for Wreckfish in January when he ran a five-night 'pay what you want' pop-up in the near derelict site for the new restaurant in central Liverpool.

This raised almost £8,000 and since then a star studded cast of leading UK chefs and restaurateurs, including MasterChef Ireland judge Daniel Clifford, have banded together to lend their support to the project by offering to cook at guest chef nights and masterclasses.

Public support came in the form of pledges for a variety of rewards including inclusion on the founders’ wall (£30); lunch for two at Wreckfish when it opens, which more than 300 people offered to pay £50 for, and dinner at Wreckfish cooked by Tom Kerridge of the Michelin two-star Hand and Flowers restaurant, which 29 people pledged £300 or more for before the sold out sign went up.

The project, which will involved extensive renovations to the former watchmaker’s building, is expected to cost more than the amount raised on Kickstarter. “The bank has agreed to lend us £300,000, but we just need you to help us raise that extra £200,000 to make Wreckfish happen,” Usher’s campaign pitch stated.

Casual bistro

The forthcoming 90-seater restaurant will be a casual bistro. “Our aim has always been to provide perfectly simple food in a relaxed environment, using the best quality produce possible. Everything in our restaurants is made completely from scratch, including fresh bread, all stocks and sauces, ice creams and sorbets. Wreckfish will be no different,” Usher says.

His earlier ventures have proved popular with British restaurant critics, with Marina O’Loughlin, writing in the Guardian, saying: “If I could clone Sticky Walnut, I would. I’d plonk its like the length of the land, replacing every Frankie & Benny’s and La Tasca and Café bloody Rouge”.