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The Young Turks chef set to 'crowdfund' Shoreditch Town Hall restaurant

By Peter Ruddick , 16-Aug-2012
Last updated on 16-Aug-2012 at 20:12 GMT

Chef Isaac McHale, one half of The Young Turks team that took up residence at The Ten Bells, is jointly setting up a new restaurant partly invested through 'crowdfunding'
Chef Isaac McHale, one half of The Young Turks team that took up residence at The Ten Bells, is jointly setting up a new restaurant partly invested through 'crowdfunding'

Isaac McHale, one half of The Young Turks chef collective, is preparing to jointly launch a set-menu restaurant in Shoreditch Town Hall, financed in part by 'crowdfunding' with the aim of opening two more sites for investors to benefit from.

The, as yet, unnamed restaurant will be the first permanent project for McHale and the first since he and fellow Young Turks member James Lowe decided to embark on separate ventures.

Last year Lowe and the former The Ledbury chef opened a pop-up at The Ten Bells in Spitalfields alongside front-of-house pair Daniel Willis and Johnny Smith. Now Willis, Smith and McHale have come together to partly finance a restaurant, with the remainder of the funds (£250k) coming from the power of the crowd.

"For guys like us, doing our first restaurant without a windfall of money, we would either have to look to a single investor or go to the banks who aren't lending," McHale told BigHospitality.

Independence 

Inspired by their own relationship with social media and following Brad McDonald's success in New York with Colonie and Jonathan Downey's experience closer to home, McHale said 'crowdfunding' a restaurant to get the necessary finance seemed a 'logical progression' for the trio.

"As opposed to a normal model where a single chef might go into business with a single investor who would sit on a large chunk of the money and get 50 per cent of the restaurant or more; as three working partners we wanted to retain a bit of independence. Raising money with the democratizing power of the crowd made sense."

Expansion

McHale expects the majority of the early investors through their Crowdcube website to be like-minded friends, family members and customers before pushing out to the general public.

However they will need to be quick with the team hoping to open the doors to their part of the Grade II-listed building in November. Investors will hopefully receive tax relief by investing in a small business plus dividends and other perks with a chance to sell to the founders or co-investors after three years.

However McHale said he was not looking for people who were after an early exit strategy.

"We want all the ground-floor investors in this to be partners with us for a while. The intention is that we open up a couple of other restaurants and these people share in the success of all of them," he said.

Freedom

McHale, who has also worked for Tom Aikens in the past, revealed he and the team had not wanted to do the project on the cheap after seeing the quality of the site in Shoreditch Town Hall.

Diners will be offered a 4-course menu with snacks while a separate bar will have a short menu alongside wine and cocktails.

"That gives us the freedom to do some great dishes that people might not ordinarily choose if it was on an a la carte menu," the chef said.

He hopes the set menu will avoid 'diner envy' or guests choosing options other than the dishes he is known for such as lamb's heart or mashed potatoes with buttered savoy cabbage, seafood sauce and mussels.

To read more on the options for financing a restaurant - check out our Funding Hospitality feature with spotlights on banks, private investment and speciality lenders.

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