Gary Usher smashes £200k target to launch 1st pub

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Jackpot: Gary Usher hits crowdfunding target to launch pub (Getty/ The Good Brigade)
Jackpot: Gary Usher hits crowdfunding target to launch pub (Getty/ The Good Brigade)

Related tags Gary usher Elite Bistros Cheshire Property Finance Gastropub

Celebrity chef Gary Usher has crowdfunded more than £222,000 in a week to reopen the White Horse in Churton, Cheshire as Elite Bistros’ first pub.

The Kickstarter campaign launched at 9pm on Tuesday 1 November then closed on Monday 7 November and won support from a total of 1,352 backers. 

In January, the team had an offer accepted on the country pub, which is about 15 minutes away from their other venue the Sticky Walnut as well as their events HQ. It had been vacant for around two and a half years, but was freehold with had no brewery ties and had space for five bedrooms upstairs. 

“The White Horse is beautiful and so is Churton,” said Usher. He continued: “My mum and dad live a few minutes away so I’m very familiar with the area, taking my dog Billy walking round there with my mum and dad’s dog Rossa.   

“I’ve always loved it there and just can’t wait to get it back open!” 

On the Kickstarter page, Usher said the team had been at the venue almost everyday moving concrete, clearing mud and moss and ripping up carpets. “You can tell how much it means to the community in Churton to have it back open too because they've been stopping by offering a pair of hands, some tools or food, or just saying hello,” he added. 

Elite Bistros has crowdfunded more than £700,000 through Kickstarters across the years with 7,000 backers. It will look to open the new pub in the new year. 

Major makeover

The money will go towards revamping the kitchen and updating some of the furnishings to bring the pub back to life. Usher said the team wanted to keep the character of the place and its “cosy country pub feeling”, while also making sure it works for service.  

“Our aim has always been to prepare and serve uncomplicated, unpretentious, delicious food by a team of hospitality professionals who love what they do,” he continued, “and that's true whether we're serving in one of our six bistros, in a tent at a wedding, or by giving you the tools to cook an Elite Bistro feast at home.  

“So, expect the pub to feel much like our bistros – with a relaxed atmosphere and a warm welcome like you're one of our friends or family. We'll have 65 covers plus a bar and beer garden. Bring your dogs.” 

Jo from Burnt Truffle, Wirral, Wales will come to the helm of the pub and previous sous chef at Sticky Walnut, Chester, Cheshire, Josh, will head up the kitchen. 

Usher added the project would be a “learning curve” for Elite Bistros, as its first pub, but the strong team and backing of the Churton community should “help us navigate”. 

Big prizes

Supporters were granted awards based on how much money they pledged. Donations of £25 or more earnt donators the name on the founders’ wall. Those pledging £50 or more bagged a lunch for two in any of the business’ bistros, with donators cashing in £85 or more scoring a dine-at-home three course meal with a cheese box. 

What’s more, those pledging £100 or more were granted dinner for two, or lunch for four, at any Elite Bistros site. People whose donations were £175 or over won a full set of elite bistro aprons, with £180 or more scoring donators a dinner party box for four at home. 

For £200, guests could bag dinner for four in any Elite Bistro venue, with £500 getting a table at the White Horse for New Years Eve 2023. £700 won donators an Elite Bistro tour, and £1,500 a private supper club in Chester. 

For £2,000, donators bagged a private in-house dinner party, with £8,000 allowing donators an Elite Bistro event for 80 people. 

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