Gary Usher: ‘I’ve just got it wrong’

Chef/entrepreneur Gary Usher of Cheshire-based Elite Bistros is launching another crowdfunding campaign next week – after admitting defeat in his most ambitious fundraiser yet, an attempt to sell shares in the company to help bankroll a suite of projects.

Gary will return to familiar – and highly successful – ground in next week’s new launch, aimed at raising £200,000 by effectively asking supporters to pay in advance for a meal at the White Horse in Churton – his first pub, which will be opened shortly.

In August he announced a more ambitious plan to raise £750,000 by selling 3.61% of Elite Bistros to investors via Seedrs – a move towards a more mainstream fund-raising approach. It apparently stalled after reaching £500,000, and the money will now be returned to investors. The extra funds would have been used to add bedrooms to the White Horse, launch a tapas brand and develop Elite’s Chester HQ. These projects will now have to wait.

Posting on Twitter, Gary explained: “I wanted to offer shares in the business, but it hasn’t worked. I’ve failed at that. Why has it failed? I’ve just got it wrong. Everything from the valuation at the start to the way that I got involved in the project. My naivety towards it all just hasn’t helped. I haven’t understood it properly and I’ve just failed. I feel a bit embarrassed. I do feel embarrassed that it hasn’t worked… but I would have always wanted to do it and if I hadn’t done it I would have felt regret, so I’ll probably take embarrassed over regret. We gave it a go, it hasn’t worked.

Instead, he said Elite would launch a Kickstarter – “Something we know“. “Stay tuned for details but it’ll go live next week and we’ll be looking to raise £200,000 for The White Horse Pub. We’re in there now clearing it up and getting it ready for trades to come in. We’ll have to adjust our plans slightly, so things like the rooms might take a little longer to happen but we really want this pub open. We’ve had people stopping by every day and asking us when we’re opening! They’re keen! And we are too. So, we hope you’ll stick with us. Sorry again.

Elite Bistros has opened six venues across the Northwest in the past decade, starting with Sticky Walnut, raising more than £700,000 through crowdfunding.

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