Entrepreneur chef sets world record for restaurant crowdfunding drive

Gary Usher

North West chef and restaurant entrepreneur Gary Usher has set a world crowdfunding record for his latest venture in Manchester.

He attempted to raise £100,000 in 100 hours to open his KALA venture in the city centre’s King Street.

But he managed to raise his target figure in just 665 minutes, just over 11 hours, thanks to 1,101 backers.

Nine months ago he raised £50,000 in 59 minutes for his Pinion restaurant in Prescot, on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

His latest fund raising drive, for his Elite Bistros group of restaurants, also managed to break not only his own, but Kickstarter’s records.

The campaign opened yesterday and after just three minutes 91 backers had pledged £13,000; by 10 minutes 271 backers had raised £30,000; and by 665 minutes the target had been reached.

Gary had managed to garner the support of Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge prior to his record-breaking campaign.

He said: “I am honestly struggling to get my head around last night. It’s not really about the money, it’s the people believing in what we’re trying to do at Elite Bistros.

“The support we have is always incredible and not just from those who pledge, but everyone who we work with on a daily basis.

“We only realised a few weeks ago that we were going to need more money to open Kala, and yet we have managed to raise this amount in such a short period of time.

“The sense of community we have at Elite Bistros is really special and something I never take for granted.

“The money means we can continue with the KALA build, be open by May and we really can’t wait. Manchester, we’ll see you soon.”

After seeing Gary’s frank video on social media detailing the issues with KALA, chef patron of the two-Michelin starred The Hand & Flowers, Tom Kerridge, offered to help them raise the money by holding two guest chef nights consecutively at Didsbury’s Hispi on Monday 25th and Liverpool’s Wreckfish on Tuesday 26th March.

KALA, managed by Katy Mills, will be a 55-cover restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a separate 15-cover bar space available for customers to enjoy a drink, their take on British bar snacks, or the a la carte menu.

Head Chef, Zhelyazko Zhelyazkov, or ‘Jiji’, who has previously worked at the two Michelin Star Moor Hall and Raby Hunt, has created a KALA menu that will feature bistro-style dishes, such as burrata, beef tartare, braised featherblade, a monkfish, spinach and tomato fondue, apple tart and crème caramel, as well as bread baked on-site and Elite Bistro’s famed truffle and parmesan chips.

The city-centre restaurant will also offer an all-day menu at the bar, featuring small, simple and delicious British dishes, such as pigs head sausage roll and pickled eggs.

KALA will open on King Street in May 2019 and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week.