Crowd-funding success for chefs Paul Foster and Gary Usher

proxyhispiA few week’s ago we reported on the interesting rise of crowd-funded restaurants as several high-profile restaurateurs announced plans to finance their latest ventures this way. We also pointed out that this strategy doesn’t always pay off – just look at the unfortunate case of Viajante. A slam dunk idea one would reckon. It’s a restaurant with a ready-made following of potential sponsors and a celeb chef at the helm.

However Nuno Mendes’s plans to resurrect Viajante through a £1.75 million equity crowd-fund last year did not reach its target in the required time period. The good news is Mendes says the level of interest they received from investors means they have other funding options to explore.

But these rare failures seem to be the exception rather than the rule, and more and more restaurateurs are turning to alternative methods of financing their culinary ventures, using crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter and Crowdcube.

Paul Foster, former head chef at Mallory Court, reached his target of £100,000 to open his own restaurant with just under a day to spare. He plans to launch a fine dining establishment in Warwickshire called Salt.

He says he was inspired by Sticky Walnut’s Gary Usher, who opened a second restaurant, Burnt Truffle, last year by raising over £100,000 through crowd-funding. In order to achieve funding, Foster offered ‘rewards’ for bidders including vouchers for the restaurant, masterclasses and private dinners.

Usher’s success with Burnt Truffle in Heswall inspired the chef to launch a second £50,000 crowd-funding campaign last month to open a third restaurant Hispi Bistro in Chorlton, south Manchester. It’s already storming along for the outspoken chef with £15,036 raised overnight – mind you it’s slightly slower going than the campaign for Burnt Truffle, which racked up over £24,000 in just 24 hours and reached its target in just a month!

In London, devilishly spicy Thai pop-up Som Saa – founded by chefs Andy Oliver and Mark Dobbie (who met at London’s prestigious Nahm under the tutelage of the somewhat legendary David Thompson) and managed by Tom George – opens its first permanent site in Shoreditch this month thanks to funding. Last year they sailed past their target of £550,000, raising £700,000.

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