You may not know the name Nuno Mendes – though if you pay more than passing attention to the London restaurant scene, you probably do. But it’s likely that you know the names of some of the places he’s been associated with. Or at least the name Chiltern Firehouse, so popular with AAA-list celebs that you have more chance of being run over by a fire truck than getting a dinner reservation there.
If you’re truly in the resto-know, you also know the original Mendes gaff was called Viajante, at the cooler-than-cool Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green. The Portuguese-born chef has lived in Shoreditch so long he can claim to have moved there before Shoreditch became Shoreditch. East London is his natural habitat. So it’s not surprising that his newest plan is for a second incarnation of Viajante at Metropolitan Wharf in Wapping.
What is a bit surprising is the way he’s going about it. Mendes is a hot property in the glam-addled London restaurant scene: you’d expect to see hedge-fund hotshots throwing £50 notes at him the way frenzied female fans used to hurl their undergarments at Tom Jones whenever he took to the stage. And the sum Mendes is hoping to raise, £1.75 million, is barely enough to buy a modest pied à terre in Mayfair (before stamp duty).
But is he tapping the 1 percent for his dosh? Well, they’re not excluded by name, but neither are they the only ones invited to the party. Mendes is using crowdfunding, like plenty of other restaurant ventures before him (including Som Saa and the just-opened Chicken Town in Tottenham). That £1.75 million represents a third of the equity in the venture, and if you think it sounds like a lot, consider this: as we’re writing this blog, mere days after the venture was announced, he had raised just over £200,000.
Investors can put in as little as a tenner, but those with fatter wallets can claim various perks. Put in £2K and you get priority booking for three months and an invite to a pre-launch party where the man himself will be in attendance. Upping your stake to £100K brings you an invite to the soft launch and a meal for twelve in the private dining room cooked by you-know-whom. And for £250K, you get pre-dinner drinks with Brad and Angelina and a lift home in Beyoncé’s helicopter.
Oh, wait. The maximum contribution has just been capped at £100,000. Leaves more for the rest of us, I suppose. If you think Nuno is the capital's numero uno, you may want to throw some of your capital his way.
In other crowdfunding news, someone's started a campaign for a floating cycle path across the Thames.