Dean Banks who runs popular St Andrews eatery Haar Restaurant has received “overwhelming” support for his latest Haar at Home crowdfunder.
The Angus-born chef has spoken of the outstanding generosity of his customers and the public as a crowdfunder he launched to support a business started in lockdown hit its intended target of £25,000 in two days.
Dean, who appeared on BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals in 2018, announced the initiative on social media two days ago, and hit his target with donations from just 112 supporters.
He has now increased the amount he is seeking to £60,000, which he hopes to raise within 11 days.
48hours in and we have reached our 25k target for Haar at home on @crowdfunderuk Thank you to everyone that has supported me during this terrible time. Onwards and upwards. New stretch target is now live. https://t.co/cofo4UpYeE
— ChefDeanBanks (@banks_chef) July 6, 2020
Supporters pledging financial support can pick from a range of rewards which start from £15 to £10,000.
These include getting their names included on the supporter wall in the new kitchen unit and on the box design, as well as full private use of Haar with a seven-course tasting menu for 25.
The 32-year-old chef launched the fine-dining luxury lobster and crab delivery food box service Haar at Home in April and has since gone from sending out 50 boxes per week, to more than 500.
As a result he has been able to bring some of his staff back from furlough and re-employ them at his award-winning restaurant after being inundated with orders from across the UK.
— ChefDeanBanks (@banks_chef) July 6, 2020
He said: “I think the support from everyone is unbelievable. We set targets and were hoping for around £2,500 to £3,000 in the first day, but it just took off and blew away all of my expectations.
“The 25k allows us to be able to buy some of the equipment we will need for the unit – second hand ovens and second hand tables. It was more of a budgeted target. But with the stretch target of £60k, we could buy a chilled van which then allows us to go to the harbours and buy the lobsters and crabs direct from the boats ourselves, and also lets us deliver in our local areas like Dundee, Perth and Fife. National delivery costs £15 but this would allow us to charge less to local customers which is great.”
The chef says he chose to go down the crowdfunding route as a means of raising money quickly, but in return for pre-paid meal boxes and experiences.
He added: “Haar is still a relatively new business and we can’t afford to put masses of money into new projects. We had a brainstorm and thought by pre-selling our products and services that we could then generate money and use it for the new project.
“The oven alone costs £10k and the root of the idea really stemmed from the itison model where you buy pre-sell tickets or experiences. In our case we’ve pre-sold boxes, bespoke packages like dining experiences and that sort of thing.”
Still looking to confirm if the unit for Haar at Home will be based in Dundee or Perth, Dean and his team are also gearing up to reopen his award-winning restaurant Haar on July 31.
He will also be opening a new high-end fish and chip restaurant called Haarbour this September which will see the chef employ 25 new staff.
He added: “It’s been non-stop, but it’s great. There’s a lot of bad things happening during this pandemic in business with job losses and so on, but we’ve been so lucky and have such a supportive customer base and the crowdfunder shows just that. Dundee is a better location for me for a unit, but we’re keeping our options open just now.
Just took our 2000 order for Haar at home!! 💥
— ChefDeanBanks (@banks_chef) June 29, 2020
“The great thing is when we get the unit we’ll be supporting the local area by providing jobs. My Haar staff are operating Haar at Home just now, but in the new unit we’ll look to employ about eight people. I need to employ a few more people for Haar, too, as I’ll have a mix of my current team and new chefs working on Haar at Home.
“We put two ads out recently for chefs and within four days we had 180 CVs come in. Before the pandemic we’d maybe receive 10 at most. There’s a lot of people who may have already lost jobs so it will be good to help the local community out. We’ll also be hiring 25 staff for the new premises Haarbour in St Andrews.
“This is such a silver lining during a bad time, it’s unbelievable. The comments people have been leaving on the crowdfunder is so heartwarming, it’s really nice to hear and I just want to say thank you to everyone for all the support.”