It’ll be the third new bistro in just two years for the chef patron of Didsbury’s Hispi
Many (including a few of us) said he wouldn’t do it, that £200k was an audacious amount to ask for.
But sure enough, on Tuesday night, by the way of some 1400+ backers and with 45 hours to spare, Gary Usher - the Twitter-thumping chef patron behind Chester’s award-winning Sticky Walnut, Burnt Truffle in Heswall and Hispi in Didsbury – hauled his latest crowd funding campaign (launched 2 May) over the line, thus surpassing the most ambitious target ever set for a UK restaurant on Kickstarter.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, Usher has raised over £160k via crowd funding before, though for that sum he has three North West bistros to show… here it needed £200k for just one.
Usher tells us he hopes to launch his 90-cover ‘homely and rustic, but not in a try-hard way’ bistro in September 2017
And yet he needs more. Much more. Because for all the talk of short-sighted, tight-fisted, pissant bankers, it is they who are chucking the lion’s share into Wreckfish (he says it’s a crap name chosen by Twitter… we quite like it), somewhere in the region of £300k.
Now Usher – who on opening his first shoestring restaurant admits having to choose between a combi-oven and chairs – finds himself knee-deep in a serious half a million pound project, and he couldn’t be happier. “This is the most special thing I’ve ever been a part of,” he said, “…proof that absolutely anything is possible.”
And it’s a good job the crowd fund did hit the target, with building work to convert the former Watchmaker’s factory in the Ropewalks area of Liverpool already well underway (a possible Plan B there, chef?). But given the state of the building – no gas, electricity or running water - when Usher first floated the project during a series of sell-out, camp stove-cooked supper clubs in February, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Review - Wreckfish's pop-up dinner (Feb 2017)
Usher tells us he hopes to launch his 90-cover ‘homely and rustic, but not in a try-hard way’ bistro in September 2017, and with multiple big name chefs, including Tom Kerridge, Dan Doherty and Daniel Clifford, due to cook for Wreckfish backers in October and November, there’s scant time for Usher to savour another successful crowd funder plunder.
Find out more via the Wreckfish website.
What Gary said...
"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.
“From a pop up in the derelict building in February to raising a record breaking £200k in May, I honestly can’t believe we’ve done this and I can’t thank those who have spread the word, backed and offered their time and services to the campaign enough.
"I absolutely cannot wait to open Wreckfish’s doors in September.”