Gary Usher’s new pub inundated with over 500 bookings in two days, despite £19.50 burger controversy

The White Horse at Churton has managed to come under fire before it's even opened by listing a burger for £19.50

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 6th February 2023

When Gary Usher’s new country pub The White Horse at Churton opened its booking system last Friday, fans of his Elite Bistro’s empire rushed to secure themselves a table at the soon-to-open village boozer.

It might not open its doors until 3 March but over the weekend the pub received over 500 booking requests for its first three days, showing that enthusiasm amongst fans is running high as ever.

Fully crowdfunded to the tune of £220,000 by Elite Bistro restaurant-goers in just 24 hours, it will be the eighth venture for Usher, whose group already lays claim to popular Manchester restaurants Kala and Hispi, as well as Chester’s Sticky Walnut and Wreckfish in Liverpool.

However, it’s not all been smooth sailing for the new pub so far. This weekend, Usher was forced to take to Twitter to defend his menu prices at the pub after he came under fire for listing a dry-aged burger with Comté cheese, mustard, relish and pickle with skinny fries for £19.50.

In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, Usher said: “I wanted to address a few comments about the burger on the menu, the burger’s £19 [sic] and I just wanted to address that and explain a few bits about what we do and why we do it.


“So I don’t even know where to start actually, well let’s start with a couple of comments…

“‘We should be comparing ourselves to the pub down the road and that’s how we should be finding out our prices?’ That’s just ridiculous,” he said.

The newly-released menu for The White Horse at Churton pub has caused some controversy online thanks to a £19.50 burger. / image: The White Horse at Churton
image: The White Horse at Churton

“I’m not the most confident person, I’m painfully shy to be honest, but with the business I try not to be arrogant about it ever, I’m not, but we have to give ourselves a bit of credit for who we are and what we’ve achieved and how we’ve got to where we’ve got.

He continued: “This pub isn’t our first venture, this is number eight and were bl**** successful at what we do, so you have to give us some credit… give us the confidence to make the right decisions with this.

“I’ve been working my whole life in this industry. This is my sector. This is what I specialise in. I’m an expert at it, we all are in this business.


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“And you know to be told things like you should be comparing it to the business down the road is just ridiculous. That’s not how you price up a menu.

“The burger is £19 [sic]. Now, we don’t look at other places to do that. Comparisons are great – be aware of what other people charge…

“You know to price up the menu, we source the ingredients, the very best ingredients. We get all our own raw ingredients, we add them up and then we take that into account and then work out the percentage that covers all of our costs. That’s how we came up with the cost of the menu item. That’s why the burger is £19 [sic].”

Homemade pork pie, picalilli and pickled chillies at The White Horse at Churton (£7.50). / Image: The White Horse at Churton
Beer-battered haddock and chips with minted pears and tartare at The White Horse at Churton (£15.50) / Image: The White Horse at Churton

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Speaking to The Telegraph in an article on Sunday, Usher expressed concern about opening and confessed that he felt they were ‘really risking it’ by opening ‘in these times’.

“There was a lot of talk about pubs closing down, and I thought if I could be in a position to get hold of something it would probably be a good time to buy.”

It’s clearly a labour of love for the acclaimed chef, who has previously revealed that he is a huge fan of the area as his parents live nearby.  

Located eight miles south of Chester, the historic pub has long been a local favourite. However, it was shuttered at the start of the Covid pandemic when its former licensees Dave and Jackie Biles found the business was becoming “unsustainable”.

The White Horse at Churton will also serve Sunday roasts. / Image: The White Horse at Churton
An old picture of The White Horse at Churton. / Image: The White Horse at Churton

On its newly-released menu, alongside the now-infamous £19.50 beef burger, diners will find traditional pub grub favourites like beer-battered haddock with chips (£15.50) and an 18oz dry aged sirloin of beef to share with chips and salad (£62) alongside the likes of homemade pork pie, stout rarebit, curried lamb pie and herby lamb faggots.


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Prices for snacks start from £5 whilst big plates begin at £14.50. To see the full menu, visit The White Horse at Churton’s website here.

Feature image – The White Horse at Churton