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Gary Usher says he’s ‘nervous but looking forward’ to opening his first pub

Manchester Evening News logo Manchester Evening News 27/05/2022 Ben Arnold & Angela Ferguson
Gary Usher © Dan Burns Gary Usher

Gary Usher has said that he’s ‘nervous’ about opening his first pub, which is set to open later this year. The chef behind restaurants like Kala and Hispi is in the process of buying The White Horse pub in Churton near Chester.

The country boozer has been empty for two years, after its previous owners said that they wouldn’t be reopening after lockdown. But Usher plans to have the pub reopened by around October, if all goes to plan and contracts are exchanged next month.

Speaking to Cheshire Live, he said: “It's how I started, and who doesn't love a pub. I'm nervous, though, because for the last 10 years we have been running restaurants. That's definitely our area of expertise at the moment in terms of the food and the service and we hope we can translate that to a pub.

“We need to make sure we are great at the other stuff needed to run a pub as well. It's going to be a learning curve for us." He plans to make some big changes to the pub, including building out a covered outdoor dining area in the garden, and also converting the upstairs rooms into accommodation, which will be dog-friendly.

The chef recently got into a debate on Twitter about dogs in pubs, after one user waded in saying that ‘too many people thinking dogs in pubs is a good idea. Dogs are not people and shouldn’t be treated as such’.

Usher responded saying: "If you don’t like dogs in pubs I’d swerve coming to one of ours then. Dogs will be treated like royalty and I will probably most commonly be found rolling around the floor with them."

Earlier this week, he posted a picture of the overgrown outside space to Twitter. He went on: “My mum was one of the first to message me. She said 'don't you dare rip any of that out!' Apparently there are a few different plants there, possibly including rhododendrons.

"We are really looking forward to getting into the pub. We have been up there this morning and I could see that everyone is excited about it. That's what's so good about progressing the business in this way. That expansion and progression is what keeps people in the business excited."

He recently announced that he is planning to sell shares in his company Elite Bistros, in a move similar to the way he crowdfunded a number of his other restaurants, but this time offering equity to those getting involved.

“If it wasn't for crowdfunding we wouldn't be where we are now,” he said. “If I'd just opened Sticky Walnut and hadn't done crowdfunding I can't imagine we would be any further than still having Sticky. Crowdfunding has enabled us to grow. We have been lucky with that.”

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