Gary Usher hits target to open third restaurant, Hispi

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st March 2016

Gary Usher and his team behind Sticky Walnut and Burnt Truffle have raised over £50,000 through crowdfunding.

With 16 days left to go before the Kickstarter campaign ends, Gary talks about how the money raised will go toward the construction of new restaurant, Hispi, how the support over social media helped greatly, and why he almost pulled out of the project altogether.

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In 2014, Gary and his team set up a Kickstarter to enable them to expand their business. £100,000 later, the crowdsourcing was a huge success and Burnt Truffle opened its doors in 2015. The night before his latest Kickstarter for new venture Hispi was due to go live, Gary was having some concerns: “I was about to pull out of it all. Even though the video was done and everything was ready to go, I was thinking ‘I’m not going to do it’ because loads of people had told me not to.

“People in the industry said to me ‘look, you’ve had massive success with crowdfunding before, don’t try and do it again’ because it’s like trying to repeat something that’s been a success. I hadn’t thought too much about it because I normally go in to things head first, but on the night I was really nervous.

“When we were crowdfunding for Burnt Truffle we did £25,000 in 24 hours, and so I thought ‘whatever we do now, it’ll never be that good’. I rang my brother and he said to me ‘don’t be a fucking idiot’ so it went ahead. After that, to then do £25,000 in 24 hours was ridiculous. 300 people pledged in 24 hours.”

Although Gary has now surpassed his £50,000 target, he hopes to carry on raising money in the 16 days remaining on the Kickstarter, despite people suggesting he give any money over the targeted amount either to charity or to another Kickstarter, he said: “I thought it was important for me to highlight and approach people’s questions and queries head on and to be honest. I support charity and so do other people, and if they want to give to charity they should. But I’m funding for a restaurant, which we don’t have the money for, hence why we are crowdfunding. So the money that we get from this, we need.

gary usher
Gary Usher 

“On Kickstarter, you’re investing in people and you’re investing in a business. So, if it goes over it doesn’t mean that they’re going to buy a new car or they’re going to go on holiday. Whatever they get is going to help towards whatever it is they need help with.”

He added: “My intention is to borrow £100,000 from the bank. In an ideal world, the less I can borrow off of them the better it’ll be. The money is going toward a brand new business, we are going to spend more than £150,000!”

Although the team haven’t found a site for the new restaurant yet, Gary says that no matter what site they decide on, it will involve a lot of work.

“Wherever we go, we will need to finance the whole kitchen,” he explained. “We will end up spending a hell of a lot of money, so the way I see it is; the less we have to borrow from the bank and have to pay back something with interest on it, the better! It’s everyone’s dream to open up a new business without having to repay a loan. If the money raised went up to £60,000 then I’d borrow £10,000 less off the bank, if everyone’s cool with that.”

Gary, who is very active on Twitter, believes that without the support he has had from his followers he wouldn’t have hit his target at all, he said: “Without the support we get, we’d have no chance. We love what we do here, we are really proud of our food we are really proud of the service we provide, but we are not stupid, we know what level we are at.

Gary Usher
Sticky Walnut

"We know who is in our level and what competition we are up against. I’ve taken the piss in the past when people say we are average, and it’s not what I believe at all, but in reality we are a bistro, and there’s lots of places that do what we do. But not everyone has Jay Rayner and Marina O'Loughlin in to review them! If it wasn’t for twitter then I don’t think we would have the success we do, if I can say that without sounding like a wanker.

“We have 13,000 followers (on Sticky Walnut’s account) but I don’t think that it’s about the amount of followers you have, it’s about how people feel about you as a person and as a business. If I say something good has happened or something bad, everyone gets behind me. These are all people that are guests and come to eat at our restaurants but they are so in to what we do, they support us 100%.”

The last donation before Gary hit his target was from Mark Sargeant who said to the chef: “I’m so bored of seeing your Kickstarter I’ve just rounded it up to pay the remaining £344! Now fuck off and get on with it will you.”

Gary’s Kickstarter exchanges funding for a variety of ‘Rewards’. The most successful has been a meal for two at any of their three restaurants, Sticky Walnut in Cheshire, Burnt Truffle in Heswall and the new Hispi bistro, which is due to open this year in Chorlton.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st March 2016

Gary Usher hits target to open third restaurant, Hispi