Chef Lee Skeet of Cora beats kickstarter target, raises £30,000

The  Staff Canteen

chef owner of Cora, Lee Skeet, has beaten his kickstarter target to fund improvements to his new kitchen, raising £30,000

The Kickstarter, which aimed to raise £25,000, received £30,862 from 356 backers before it finished.

After just under a month Lee's Kickstarter, which he launched to buy equipment to fit out his new Cardiff restaurant, Cora, which opened on the 17th of January, has not only reached its goal but surpassed it by a decent margin. 

Off the ground

It wasn't all that long ago that chef Lee Skeet was cooking for a single table in his living room. Now, he has opened his permanent restaurant, Cora, in central Cardiff.

Lee has been serving diners during the time and even before the Kickstarter, but things haven't been easy: he invested all the money he made from his 40 days and 40 nights pop-up into getting the restaurant up and running, buying fridges, cutlery and glasses for the front of house to make sure the team had everything they needed. This meant that when it came to fitting out the kitchen, there was no money left to improve it.

While serviceable, he told The Staff Canteen in an interview at the time of the Kickstarter's launch, that his current kitchen only has one hob and an oven with a door held on by duct tape. 

During the interview, he said: "The last little bit I need to push me over the line is to invest in some things for myself in the kitchen," he said. "I could wait a couple of months and save up for them - which I've done with the rest of the stuff - but ideally, I'd like to have an oven with a door on it."

Thanks to the Kickstarter, Lee has hopefully secured enough investment to make service more efficient and get back to improving on his cooking skills.

Lee said there's quite a lot of support behind the restaurant, and that he hoped that people would be open to investing in the short term as he has "an actual restaurant to show - rather than the hypothetical dream of a restaurant."

When asked about why he chose Kickstarter in particular, he explained: "It's not like an investment, where I owe someone money, [and] it's not like a handout. I'm giving them something in return... it's hopefully beneficial to both parties." That having been said, he saw it as better than working with backers.

"I don't want to give up any of the business and I don't want to incur any debts either," he said.

This isn't the first time Lee has turned to the public to get a project off the ground: in 2016, he used crowdfunding to open a seafood restaurant in the southwest, successfully raising enough money to get it over the threshold.

The restaurant

The restaurant, named after Lee's daughter Cora, is located above Café Milkwood, in the Pontcanna area of Cardiff. 

Cora only seats 12 and, despite its physical connection to Milkwood, is entirely different from the café below it.

Accessible through Café Milkwood, Lee explained prior to launching the restaurant, "It’s a bit of a unique setup; it’s like a semi-secret entrance and then upstairs it’s a completely separate dining room and kitchen.”

With Cora, Lee is intent on preserving his family life and has chosen to open Monday to Friday, with no dinner service on Fridays.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th February 2022

Chef Lee Skeet of Cora beats kickstarter target, raises £30,000