EVERYTHING turns to crowdfunded gold for Gary Usher. His campaign to raise £100,000 for his Manchester city centre project KALA, which kicked off at 9pm on Monday, March 11, hit its target within 11 hours, believed to be a Kickstarter world record.
With two days still to go, more than £110,000 had been raised from over 1,000 backers to plug an acute hole in the financing of Elite Bistros’ sixth venue – scheduled to open on King Street in May.
Usher’s five previous ‘Elite Bistros’ had been crowdfunded, but he was reluctant to go down that route this time. Then the ardent Tweeter (70,000 so far, 22,000 followers) put out a personal video on Twitter explaining: “We f***ed up financing this restaurant and I’ve underestimated it completely. There’s certain people asking me how I’ve f***ed it ip so bad and it’s quite a simple answer, the restaurants don’t make a lot of money, they make enough to stay afloat.”
In an emotional speech filmed on a Saturday night in the shell of the new restaurant he had explained that his group is not backed by any big London investors or the like,
He said that Hispi in Didsbury takes £18,000 a week, just covering the costs to keep it open. The same applies across all the bistros, which have won national acclaim. Few profits to plough back in, hence the need for the crowdfunding again.
One pal of Usher's determined to help is Michelin-starred telly chef Tom Kerridge, who has offered to cook at a special guest chef night at Hispi on March 25 to raise money for Kala, Last May Usher hit his £50,000 Kickstarter target for Pinion in Prescot in just one hour. That success has now been amazingly overtaken.
KALA will be a 55-cover restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a separate 15-cover bar space available for guests to enjoy a drink, our take on British bar snacks or the 'a la carte' menu. Head chef Zhelyazko 'Jiji' Zhelyazkov brings Michelin starred credentials with him from past employers Moor Hall and Raby Hunt.