'Anything is possible,' says stunned Gary Usher as UK Kickstarter record is smashed

A chef’s audacious bid to raise £200,000 in public donations - in order to open a restaurant in Liverpool - has been smashed with two days left to go.

Gary Usher’s Wreckfish Bistro will open in September thanks to the people of the city who dug deep into their pockets after the banks told him "No". 

In doing so they have helped raise the UK’s biggest ever Kickstarter amount for a restaurant.

You don’t ask, you don’t get and today, Usher, the man behind Chester’s Sticky Walnut, Heswall’s Burnt Truffle and Hispi in Disdsbury, said the achievement proved “anything was possible”.

This is the most special thing I’ve ever been a part of...it’s been an absolutely mental few months

Usher launched his ambitious crowdfunding campaign on May 2. He hoped it would realise his dream 100-cover restaurant in the old Watchmaker’s Factory on Slater Street, but despite, having pulled off similar bids to help fund his other ventures even he had his doubts over the amount, saying whatever did or didn't happen there would be fun along the way.

The Kickstarter followed a highly acclaimed pop up on the Ropewalks site in February where Usher and his team cooked for sell-out crowds, powered only by butane gas bottles and a portable generator.

Read: Restaurant review: Wreckfish

Along the way there has been plenty of big name help from friends like Tom Kerridge, Simon Rimmer, Michael O’Hare and several other Michelin star chefs.  

Last night Usher’s campaign soared past the £200k goal, with 45 hours to go, supported by  more than 1,440 backers.

Wreckfish Liverpool19
Gary Usher presides over the Wreckfish pop ups in February, which were sold out within minutes Pic by Angie Sammons

£35,000 was raised just 24 hours into the campaign, within nine days that had doubled. Now the total has topped £203,000 26 days in. There was not much not to like with fans new and old pledging for their dinner up front in the form of meal tickets for Usher’s four restaurants, branded merchandise, masterclasses, private parties and exclusive guest chef nights.

Duck & Waffle’s Dan Doherty will be hosting Wreckfish’s first ever brunch service on 5th November to a sold out crowd. Meanwhile Michelin star chef Tom Kerridge will be hosting another sell-out  six-course menu in October. As for Sunday Brunch’s Simon Rimmer, he offered the highest bidder the chance to watch the programme being filmed. Usher auctioned this opportunity via Twitter and someone coughed up £2,000.

Usher said today: “This is proof that absolutely anything is possible. The banks refused to support me in 2015 when I wanted to open Burnt Truffle and despite three successful restaurants, they struggled to back me again with the amount we need to open a restaurant such as Wreckfish. This business can be extremely tough, but opening a restaurant knowing that the local community and people from all over the UK are already behind it is a fantastic feeling."

In a message to his Kickstarter backers, Usher wrote: ""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."

He added: "It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t down to the relentless support I’ve received from all of 1,466 of you, friends, family, suppliers, landlords and an incredible amount of chefs offering to cook with me for free, just to see Wreckfish happen. It’s honestly unbelievable. 
However, it’s never just been about the money. Most of all I want to thank the people who have constantly given me support the whole way through the pop up and campaign. It’s your ridiculously nice messages that have got me through and made this happen. For that, I can’t thank you enough."

For more information, visit the Wreckfish website here