michelin-starred chef matt gillan’s kickstater is now live

Michelin-starred chef Matt Gillan has set his sights on a new project following his departure from Brighton’s Pike & Pine, which reopened as Lucky Khao this month. Matt first spotted The Chequers Inn in Slaugham (about 30 minutes north of Brighton) back in October 2018, but he wasn’t in a position to pursue it. Fast forward a few months and Matt has decided to go all in with his restaurant-with-rooms dream project, preparing to launch a Kickstarter project next week.

He hopes to raise £60k to “bring the beaut of a building back to life, back to the community, and take it on a brand new journey and fulfil a huge dream of mine.”  Matt is already on his way, as he’s raised over £5,000 in under five hours! This is pretty exciting, so we caught up with Matt to find out some more…

How long have you been working on this project?
It remained a fantasy and out of reach for a number of reasons. Things changed in November and I started to look at it more seriously to see if it was attainable and began conversations with the necessary people. Amazingly, things progressed. It was quite slow at that point, just because we were gearing up for Christmas, so we agreed to push things back until the new year. Since the new year, things are slowly falling in to place, but there’s still plenty that needs to be finalised before it’s happening for certain.

matt-gillan

Sounds exciting! So how many covers will the site have?
I’m just in the planning and design stage at the moment but, give or take a few seats in each area, the restaurant will seat 30, the private dining room 20, the bar 15-20, the lounge/breakfast room 20 and the garden 30-40. In one hit, that’s quite a few people, but we’ll use the areas intelligently to utilise the best space for the time of day and year. [Hmmm, BOTI summer party anyone? – Ed]

And what about the style of dining?
The main access route was changed a couple of years ago, which altered the whole dynamic of the business and passing trade. In my opinion, it can no longer operate as a pub delivering nice food. It has to be something more than that, and conveniently, The Chequers lends itself to being more than a pub. I would look to serve quite a high-quality, gastronomic experience in the restaurant and certainly make it more restaurant than pub, using my experience at higher-end establishments. There will be a great value lunch menu, as well as à la carte and a 6/8-course tasting menu. And a simpler, more casual, small-plate-style menu will be on offer in the bar area.

If you’re going for high quality, does that mean we can expect a higher price point, too?
We’ll be serving a three-course lunch menu for £25 per head, à la carte lunch offerings from £35-£55 and the option for a six-course tasting menu at £45. For dinner, you’ll be able to enjoy a three-course meal for an average of £35-55, our six-course tasting for £55 or the full eight-course tasting for £75.

Tell us a bit about what kind of vibe your place is going to have…
The bar will be relatively casual. It will have the feel and warmth of a pub but with some restaurant touches to bridge the gap. But the focus is on making it accessible to all. The restaurant will be very relaxed. I want to try and make the most of the view and fuse the indoors with the outdoors, but with styling and clever touches rather than plants everywhere. Service will be attentive but subtle and super friendly. [We love the sound of this – Ed]

You’re launching a Kickstarter campaign to, in your own words, “bring the beaut of a building back to life”. How much do you need to raise to make it happen?
I am looking to raise £60k on Kickstarter. This by no means covers the whole project, but it would ensure I don’t have to compromise on either finishing bedrooms or the restaurant to open. I’ve looked into using the banks, but as a new start-up, they aren’t keen.

What would be your dream timescale to get it open, once you have the funds you need?
I’d ideally like to be open in the run-up to summer, so we are bedded in. Realistically, the earliest we could open would be mid-May due to contracts being finalised, designs, building work and some other prior commitments.

You better get that Kickstarter going then! So, finally, will you be keeping the name?
No, the name will have to change to reflect the change in operation. And I’ve already got one.

Update… Matt’s kickstarter is now live for his dream project, Heritage! No pressure, dearest BOTI readers, but here’s your chance to help a Michelin-starred chef achieve his dreams (and our dining ones!). Pledge your pennies (or in this case, pounds) RIGHT HERE!