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.
“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.
“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].”
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”.
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.
Qatar and Sir Jim Ratcliffe set to submit ‘world record’ offers to buy Manchester United as other bidders are expected to join the race
The deadline for the second round of bidders in the race to takeover Manchester United football club has officially passed, with multiple world record offers reportedly on the verge of being submitted.
Following the first round of bids, which saw a Qatar investment group headed up by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe both put in their initial offers, Manchester United set a second deadline of 9pm on 22 March for them to increase their offers and welcome other offers.
While the opening bids matched each other at £4.5 billion, working with financial advisors Raine Group who are brokering in the deal from the US, neither reached the Glazer family ownership’s estimations, who value the club closer to £6bn.
As a result, both went on to carry out further negotiations — each visiting Old Trafford last Friday and staying for upwards of six hours (more than 10 in the case of the Qataris) — but it is now thought they may no longer be the only parties involved in the bidding war. Whether it will be in time is the issue.
Despite earlier reports that Sheikh Jassim and his associates had submitted a “world record offer” before the Glazers and Raine Group’s 9pm deadline (5pm New York time), Sky Sports‘ Kaveh Solhekol has now clarified that the bid was not submitted in time and that they have asked for an extension.
Man United are said to have agreed to the extension and Sheikh Jassim still remains confident that they have the “best bid” of the bunch.
Moreover, as per the likes of Mike Keegan, Jim Ratcliffe was also set to enter his second bid, with both offers said to have increased to around the £5bn mark. However, the INEOS chief exec is also said to have failed to meet the deadline and been granted an extension, according to a senior source.
Kaveh also went on to detail that multiple other offers have in fact been submitted, with the numbers said to be “approaching eight” different bidders.
Any bid of more than £3.75bn would break the world record fee for a sports club set when the Denver Broncos were sold last summer.
As for the frontrunners, both offers are still around a billion short of the Glazer’s asking price and not only have Sheikh Jassim and co. already warned they will ‘walk away’ if the price is too high, but it’s unclear how far Ratcliffe’s wealth can stretch if he is to continue pursuing a deal.
The key difference between the two bids is that Qatar’s bid will apparently make the club debt-free given the sheer mass of state wealth behind them, whereas the Failsworth-born businessman’s financing may be more complex to put together.
Trying to clear up the confusion, The Times‘ Matt Lawton said on Twitter that “both Qatari and INEOS representatives said their bids were in, United sources [are] saying they haven’t yet bid and have asked for an extension”, with offers now set to be made by tomorrow.
As reported by Sky Sports earlier this week, it was thought that “at least five other bidders” and as many as eight in question could join the race along with Ratcliffe and Qatar, who were the only two parties to have submitted an official offer for United during the first round of bidding.
However, a detailed list of the other candidates and precisely how many are still yet to be confirmed; Kaveh did go on to suggest that some could simply be a form of “hot air” designed to hopefully urge the ‘serious bidders’ to edge their offers up even higher.
As for next steps, neither of the parties in the supposed two-horse race expect an immediate decision from the board, especially after the unexpected delay, and those who submitted new offers in the second round of bidding will have to wait at least seven days to hear back from the club and brokers Raine Group regarding their progress.
However, it is worth noting that these subsequent bids may not necessarily be attempts to buy the club outright and not only is there a feeling that a third round of negotiations could take place, but there is also a growing sense that the Glazers could still pull out of a potential buyout altogether.
Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone cameras are now being used for ‘detecting crime’
Cameras installed for Greater Manchester’s now-discarded Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme are apparently being used for “detecting crime”.
A total of 407 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras were installed across the region back in February 2022 ready for the start of the controversial £60 million scheme that never happened – but now, councillors in Bolton have revealed that the technology isn’t going to waste, and is actually being for an entirely different reason all together.
After Horwich councillor David Grant “raised concerns” about the cost of running the cameras at recent Bolton Council meeting, leader Martyn Cox revealed that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been closely controlling them and using them “to good effect in detecting crime”, according to BBC Manchester.
“Now that the Mayor of Greater Manchester has graciously confirmed that the area of Bolton will most like not be subject to any clean air zone can the leader confirm that he intends to demand that the presumably now defunct cameras be removed?,” Mr Grant asked at the meeting.
He continued: “Secondly, bearing in mind these cameras are live and drawing electricity from our street furniture, will he be requesting a payment for electricity estimated Greater Manchester wide at £375,000 a month?”
Council leader David Cox then explained to Mr Grant that information from the cameras released in line with data protection legislation has been used to support at least two murder investigations, one high risk missing person case, one county lines drug supply case, two separate fatal road traffic collisions, and an aggravated burglary.
“However, it is acknowledged that there are concerns around the use of number plate recognition cameras and allowing direct access to the cameras to organisations such as Greater Manchester Police when these are no longer required for a charging clean air zone,” Mr Cox continued.
“There is a commitment to undertake public consultation on the future use of cameras once we have a decision from central government on the investment led clean air plan.”
The Clean Air Zone was to initially hand motorists daily charges of up to £60 for some of the most polluting vehicles on Greater Manchester‘s roads.
The government agreed to delay the deadline for the scheme until 2026, but local leaders wanted to scrap all charges and help to fund vehicle upgrades instead.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) then set out evidence supporting an investment-led, and, crucially for residents and motorists, a non-charging Clean Air Plan back in June 2022 – which it said was “the best solution” to address the roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) problem.