Usher, whose first restaurant Sticky Walnut opened in Cheshire in 2011, raised his target two weeks’ ago – including almost £25,000 in the first 24 hours ‒ but continued to gather pledges until last night’s deadline via the website Kickstarter. There were 718 backers in total
This is the second successful crowdfunding campaign for Usher, after he raised £100,000 in 2014 to help set up his second site, Burnt Truffle, in Heswall. Having asked for half that amount this time around, Usher has confirmed that his bank will now loan him £100,000 on the strength of the £50,000 raised online, and he will put all the money towards the new venue.
The chef, whose past career includes the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, is a comical and tongue-in-cheek presence on Twitter, mainly using the social media platform to poke fun at his own business and enthusiasm, garner support, and publicise his actions, including asking for retweets, and keeping his 13,000 followers updated on the campaign’s progress.
He wrote online last night: “Mission accomplished. Well, sort of. [But] it’s hard to describe how it feels to have nearly a thousand people, the majority of whom I have never met, believe in something I am trying to get of the ground. It is both overwhelming and humbling.”
He also wrote, in his characteristically-coarse style: “Seriously…f**king thank you so f**king much. I promise we will make Hispi as good as we can. Thank you.”
The first site for Hispi has fallen through, he said, and the group was now on the hunt for another south Manchester location, ideally in Chorlton.
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to set up campaigns asking the public for donations, from any amount upwards. Each pledge – whether £5 or £5,000 – is then acknowledged with a corresponding reward of the campaigns choosing.
Usher’s rewards included a free meal, a chance to join the staff at their Christmas party, and your name featured on the wall of the new restaurant.