The village boozer in Cheshire is the first pub for the Elite Group

Chef Gary Usher’s story keeps on giving - or rather his customers do - and his luck shows no sign of running out. The award-winning chef now owns six restaurants across the North West as Elite Bistros and he has just smashed his latest Kickstarter target of £200k to support the group’s first pub opening in Cheshire.

Expect the pub to feel much like our bistros - with a relaxed atmosphere and a warm welcome like you're one of our friends or family.

The White Horse pub in the village of Churton has been closed since 2020 after being shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, Admiral Taverns put the freehold of the 2,375 sq ft site up for sale with a guide price of £495,000. Usher says he had an offer accepted in January for the country pub, which is just seven miles down the road from Sticky Walnut in Hoole.

20180129 Gary Usher Sticky Walnut
Chef Gary Usher

The Elite Bistros owner is the man behind big names like Wreckfish, Pinion, Burnt Truffle, Kala and Hispi, and Usher has had previous success in crowdfunding his restaurants, having raised nearly £750,000 over the years. 

He recently tried to raise funds for three new projects, including The White Horse, by offering shares in Elite Bistros via the Seedrs platform. £120,000 was raised in the first three hours of the crowdfund, offering 3.61% equity with a share price of £4.17, valuing the company at £20m.

But last week, Usher announced on the Elite Bistros website, “For one reason or another our campaign on Seedrs didn’t work, and we’re sorry for that. We wanted to offer shares in Elite Bistros and we have big plans and projects we were itching to get started on, and we know you were behind us. But right now the best thing to do was to cancel, get the funds back in your pockets and move on to something different.”

Gary Usher The White Horse Churton Cheshire Crowdfunder
The White Horse in Churton Image: Elite Bistros/Kickstarter

The Kickstarter launched at 9pm on Tuesday 1 November and at the time of writing has reached £215,000 of its £200K goal. The campaign closes on Monday 7 November. 

The Seedrs goal would have allowed The White Horse to be ready before Christmas and to complete five rooms upstairs in 2023. Usher says the new lower target with the Kickstarter means that he’ll now be looking to open in the New Year and doing a lot of the work themselves, with the rooms set to open in 2024. Everything raised over the £200K will also go into the pub.

On the new Kickstarter page, Usher wrote, “We're putting the money into the kitchen and updating some of the furnishings to bring the pub back to life. 

"We won't be tearing things out willy-nilly. We wanting [sic] to keep the character of the place and that cosy country pub feeling, whilst also making sure it works for service.  Most of the work will be in the kitchen to get that ready for the team and making sure we can deliver an Elite Bistro experience.

"Our aim has always been to prepare and serve uncomplicated, unpretentious, delicious food by a team of hospitality professionals who love what they do. And that's true whether we're serving in one of our 6 bistros, in a tent at a wedding or by giving you the tools to cook an Elite Bistro feast at home. 

"So expect the pub to feel much like our bistros - with a relaxed atmosphere and a warm welcome like you're one of our friends or family.  We'll have 65 covers plus a bar and beer garden.  Bring your dogs. 

"A pub as beautiful & charming as The White Horse deserves to be buzzing with life & energy. I'm hopeful our fabulous team can smash it.”