Gary Usher successfully raises £100k for latest crowdfunding project, Kala

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Restaurateur Gary Usher has raised over £100,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to save his latest venture, a restaurant on Manchester’s King’s Street, Kala.

The Kickstarter launched at 9pm on Monday evening, with only seven days to raise the funds. Within one hour of it being live, the project had already raised over £63, 000 with 658 backers. In 11 hours, 1100 people had backed the project - making it the fastest restaurant project to raise £100, 000 in Kickstarter history.

Rewards for donors included guest chef nights with Tom Kerridge and his team. Tom told the St Helen's Star: “Gary is everything that I find amazing about this industry - he’s driven, passionate and his love of restaurants is hugely inspiring. He is a friend that I admire very much. And as a bunch of people in Marlow, we would love to help Gary in any way that we can, to open his biggest and most exciting venture to date!”

Taking to Twitter this morning, Gary posted from the @StickyWalnut account, thanking everyone who had backed the campaign.

Ok listen. Fuck.
Look this is fucking incredible. I fucked up the finances for Kala to open. I underestimated the build. I told you all about it only two weeks ago. This is what you do about it. You are all amazing & I don’t know why you support us so much but you do.
Fuck sake

— STICKY (@StickyWalnut) March 12, 2019

A trailer for the Kala restaurant shows the restaurant, very much a building site, which stated that Gary needed "to raise £100,000 in a week, otherwise Kala will never open.”

It isn't the first time Gary has turned to the public to fund his ventures: he raised £103,915 for Burnt Truffle in 2014, £58,650 for Hispi in 2016, £208,956 for Wreckfish in 2017, and £86,624 for Pinion last year. If he hits his target, he'll have crowdfunded more than £558,145.

In a video Gary posted on Twitter at the end of February, he said: “We underestimated it completely."

“There are certain people asking me how I fucked up so bad and it’s quite a simple answer really - restaurants don’t make a lot of money, they make enough to stay afloat. We’re not backed by a VC down in London that will throw money at us without regard for return in any kind of quality.”

“We’re not Pizza express, we’re not Bella Italia, we don’t have the working capital to put in so we’ve got stuck because we open restaurants on a fucking budget.”

An outpouring of support from fellow chefs and customers ensued - offering their services for the crowdfunding prizes - like Dining Room chef Si Toft - for whom Gary backed a crowdfunding page when the Abersoch chef was hospitalised and had to close his restaurant in 2016. 


I’m prepared to transfer the potwashing masterclass that @liambarriebros was too cool to use for theirs. Will include signed marigolds and a tabard.

— The Dining Room (@eldiningroomi) 27 February 2019

Gary said the whole project, combining the crowdsourced money, a bank loan and private funding will cost £300,000 “or less.”

After that, he said, “if we do get stuck, there isn’t anymore money.”

“We love what we do and I love the restaurants and I love all the people in the restaurants, I love the guests that come to the restaurant – most of them - and I don’t see a problem in it I still want to expand, even though there isn’t money to expand we’re just trying the best way that we can and with you guys with help in crowdfunding and just working out any little ways that we can open restaurants on these budgets.”

Kala will be restaurateur Gary’s sixth, joining Hispi, Sticky Walnut, Burnt Truffle, Wreckfish and Pinion in the Elite Bistro Group. Originally the launch date was set for September last year, then pushed back to February. It is now hoped to open in May.

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 12th March 2019

Gary Usher successfully raises £100k for latest crowdfunding project, Kala