A chef in the North of England is looking to set a new precedent in restaurant funding by successfully raising the money to open a new restaurant through hundreds of small donations made online.
Sticky Walnut in Chester is hailed as one of the best restaurants in the North, if not England, and sits in 39th position on Restaurant Magazine’s list of The Best Restaurants in the UK. The local neighbourhood establishment has received glowing reviews across the industry and seen many a London critic board the train North for a taste of chef Gary Usher’s food.
Now, Usher is looking to open a second location called Burnt Truffle and is close to raising the capital for the project on the crowd funding site Kickstarter.
At the time of writing 567 individuals have backed Usher’s project with donations starting at £10 and going up to as high as £5,000. Crowd Funded restaurants do exist, The Clove Club in London being a good example, but The Clove Club was backed by a number of individuals who all receive a share of the restaurant’s profits - Kickstarter does not allow this. Instead, backers on Kickstarer are offered a reward for the money they pledge, in this case people who pledge £10 will receive a personalised thank you note, those who give £25 will have their name etched onto a wall inside the new restaurant and one of the six £5k options that has already been purchased will see one backer take 49 of their friends and family to experience the first ever Sunday lunch inside the new restaurant.
Usher is by no means the only person looking to fund a restaurant on Kickstarter - a quick search on the site reveals everything from local Pizzerias, to coffee shops and food trucks, all of them hungry for funding. What’s exciting about the Burnt Truffle project is just how close they are. With just four days remaining to fund their project, Kickstarter rule state they must receive all the money they asked for, the team have received £72,910 of their £100,000 goal.
A number of high profile journalists, critics and chefs have tweeted their support for the project and the high number of backers is testament to the chef’s strong customer base at Sticky Walnut and also his hugely popular following on Twitter. If Usher and the team receive the funding they need it will surely act an example for a new way for chef’s to launch restaurants and giving a whole new meaning to the term, community restaurant.