The chef, who has established a name for himself as a successful crowdfunder after raising money for his previous two ventures online, is also an outspoken presence on Twitter, and first announced plans for the fourth restaurant - which will also aim to raise crowdfunded cash - on the microsite.
Speaking to BigHospitality, Usher admitted that he wasn’t sure if the new plans would work, but he confirmed that the name of the new restaurant would be Wreckfish, and that he would be asking for at least £200,000 via crowdfunding, to buy the kitchen and set up the new place.
The name is said to come from a type of fish used by the group already: a type of seabass called stone bass, from the rock fish family of fish, sometimes also known as ‘wreckfish’.
Usher said he had already secured a site for the would-be opening, but that it didn’t yet have any water or electricity.
Despite this, he confirmed that the team planned to cook at a week-long pop-up at the site in January, as part of filming for a new crowdfunding video (each campaign from Usher has seen a comedic video published alongside to help raise funds). The actual bid is expected to launch in March.
“Too much fun to stop”
Usher said: “Hispi has hit the ground running and it’s already a great business. We just want to replicate the formula of good food in simple settings. [All the sites] are very individual, despite having the same ethos and basic restaurant recipe. I’m having too much fun to stop.”
On the subject of crowdfunding, he said: “I want to crowdfund because I love how crazy it is, and I love the support. I’ve pretty much maxed out what I can get [from the banks] with a cheeky smile and nice aftershave. I think I’m trying to do something pretty special, and I don’t want someone in a pinstriped suit to tell me ‘no’.”
He added: “I’m just saying, ‘would you like to buy a meal voucher?’ and in return, [guests] can have their meal and we will open another bistro. I don’t think it will work, but we’ll have a f**king good craic trying.”
The chef also said that he was planning to open in Liverpool because “I love it”, and used to work in a restaurant “over the road from Wreckfish”. He did not rule out plans to open in London, “if we don’t go bust first”.
He also said that nothing would be possible without his amazing team, with his managers and financial controllers among the real drivers behind the group’s continuing success.
Usher first opened the 40-cover Sticky Walnut in Chester 2011, and crowdfunded £100,000 via the website Kickstarter to open his second, the 100-cover Burnt Truffle, on the Wirral in 2014. A further crowdfunding bid – plus bank funding – followed, allowing him to open the 60-cover Hispi Bistro in Chorlton, in 2016.
Although Usher repeatedly calls his sites “just neighbourhood bistros”, the food is widely well-received, and his career includes time at top-end restaurants including Chez Bruce and Chapter One.
The chef has established himself as a humorous presence online, often tweeting swear-filled quips on Twitter and asking his followers questions in a tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating manner.