The internet age has changed a lot of things about the restaurant industry, like the immediate public feedback from crowdsourced review sites like Yelp, to online ordering, the rise of food bloggers…ahem… and the connection restaurant owners can make with patrons through social media like Twitter and Facebook. And another information-age invention is continuing to change the game for hopeful restaurant owners as well.
The days of having to win Top Chef to fund the opening of your dream restaurant are over. All you need now is an internet connection, a good idea, and a whole lot of friends.
For those not familiar, crowdfunding is the practice of fielding small donations from the public through a website like Kickstarter for whatever project you need money for. This can include anything, from raising capital to record an album, develop a video game, or launch a fashion line. Rather than receiving a monetary return on your pledged funds, a variety of gifts for the carrying pledge levels are available, or you can opt out of the gifts and just donate out of the goodness of your heart.
And right now, there are a few Atlanta restaurants that are using crowdfunding to get off the ground.
PushStart Kitchen, the successful underground supper club for the last 2 years, is currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their first brick and mortar store. As of today, there are 19 days left to donate and gifts range from a shout out on their website all the way up to a private dinner for a party of 30 at the restaurant.
Staplehouse, the supper club-turned-non-profit-restaurant by Ryan and Jen Hidinger, has a little less than a month left on their Indiegogo campaign. Since the news that Ryan was diagnosed with Stage IV gallbladder cancer last December, and the resulting groundswell of support from the Atlanta food community, Staplehouse has been re-imagined as anon-profit engine to benefit members of the culinary community facing unexpected financial circumstances. You can donate to the launch of Staplehouse here.
And there is a recent success story as well….Jekyll Brewing, a soon-to-be Alpharetta based brewing company, raised nearly $34,000 through a Kickstarter campaign that ended March 2nd. The new brewery is still under construction, but you can follow their progress on their Facebook page here.
- By Jon Watson, Food & More Blog