High stakes, high rewards: Gary Usher says he 'doesn't bother' going to a bank before opening a restaurant anymore

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th September 2019

The opening sequence of The Rebel Chef: My Restaurant Revolution, a documentary aired on Channel 4 last night, describes Prescot as being "on the cusp of regeneration."

Pinion - in the city of watchmakers,  what makes a watch tick - was Gary Usher's latest idea for a restaurant, which has since become a reality.

The chef has beat Kickstarter records time and time again, raising £58,650 for Hispi, £103,915 for Burnt Truffle, £208,956 for Wreckfish, £114,271 for Kala and, the subject of this documentary, £86,624 for Pinion. 

Aside from the challenge of opening restaurants in areas where his cooking style may not be on par with what the locals are used to, getting that many pledges seems impossible - but it is very much his modus operandi. 

For Pinion, the chef had 41 backers in the first minute, and reached his target in less than an hour.

"I don't bother trying the bank first when we go to open a restaurant now because I know they'll say no," he said.  

The chef is in the same situation as many of his peers, given the current economic climate, but it remains a risk:

"You're putting yourself on the line a little bit and exposing yourself, you're telling people: 'I don't have enough money to open a restaurant but I want to, will you help me?"

"If I had my own money, I would put my own money into it. If I had 100 grand in my bank account, I would put 100 grand into all the restaurants right now. If I had two million in my bank account, I would go and open another restaurant, but a fucking massive one. I would put every single penny that I ever had into the restaurants, I just don't have any." 

Independent of reason

His managing director, Claire Wright, admits that the chef makes impulsive decisions, and that she helps keep him in check: "Gary gets these harebrained schemes, then he'll phone me up 'cos he's already agreed them generally and goes: 'Now don't get mad, but...' and you think: "Oh, Jesus, what has he done now?" 

But when she informed him that based on the footfall, he'd need to make £9,700 a week to break even with Pinion - let alone turn a profit - he stood his ground: "do I regret it? No, f**king hell, no, I don't regret it, Jesus, no." 

"I probably gamble a little bit with the way that I am with the business and the decisions that I make. I won't make a decision based on "I'm not going to f**king do that because it might jeopardise that. I'm going to f**king to do that because I want to do that and I want to do it right now," he said. 

But despite the trials and tribulations,  the chef seems to be onto a winning formula: his businesses are successful, his team and customers think highly of him and of his food - and he's yet to fail to meet a crowdfunding target. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th September 2019

High stakes, high rewards: Gary Usher says he 'doesn't bother' going to a bank before opening a restaurant anymore