Le Vacherin launches crowd-funding

Chiswick’s high class French restaurant Le Vacherin has launched a crowd-funding campaign to survive closure during the Coronavirus emergency. So far they have raised £8,392 towards a target of £35,000, by issuing vouchers for varying amounts to be redeemed once the restaurant is open again.

“We have been humbled by the response from local people” says owner Donna Thompson Smith.

“The weekend all the pubs and restaurants closed we were fully booked” she told The Chiswick Calendar. “We knew it was coming and that Friday we were in two minds – do we go and buy all the meat and fish, or don’t we? It was like Russian roulette.”

They did buy supplies to meet all the weekend covers on that Friday morning, and the announcement was made on the Friday night, leaving them with bills that had to be paid.

“The suppliers need to be paid. Their suppliers need to be paid. Financially it was catastrophic” she says. Their turnover is usually in the region of £15,000 – £18,000 per week and everyone gets paid, but the suddenness of the restaurant closure has left them with debts.

They rang round their customer data base and sold off a selection of cheeses and artisan bread and other fresh food. They are waiting to hear confirmation of a year’s holiday in business rates from Ealing council and the £25,000 grant offered by the Government, but in the short term at least there is a cash flow problem.

“None of that is forthcoming as yet”.

Image above: Marco Cristaldi, General Manager; Marc Wainwright, Head Chef; Donna Thompson Smith, Owner

‘Please support Le Vacherin, your local restaurant. Together we will survive. For you, we intend to stay around!’

Le Vacherin has furloughed all the staff (13 currently). The staff are not allowed to do any work for the restaurant while they are on furlough, so Donna has thought about the idea of selling takeaway food and dismissed it, as it would jeopardise their payments. Instead they have launched their voucher initiative, through Crowdfunder. If they were to go bust, which she sincerely hopes not, money paid to Crowdfunder would be refunded.

£25 will buy you two bottles of wine from their house wine range (Vermentino or Merlot)
£35 will obtain a gift voucher to be spent at Vacherin only, not in conjunction with any other offer or discount
£100 gets you 20 % off the food bill for a year, from the a’ la carte menu and Prix fixe.
£500 and the head chef will come and cook for you in your home.

‘The global COVID-19 pandemic has created a very uncertain landscape for millions of British small businesses, making it very challenging to survive. Your local dining family is no exception. We have seen so many other restaurant & businesses closing down and sending thousands of workers home. Our goal is Threefold, as we passionately defend our family restaurant:

1. Protect this  exceptional restaurant we have created

2. Keep on serving our community during these difficult times

3. Look after our incredible team and help to weather financial woes’.

You can buy vouchers for Le Vacherin here.

When the announcement was made on the evening of Friday 20 March, the phone was ringing off the hook with customers offering their support and good wishes says Donna.

“Our regular customers are phenomenal. We’ve had a few cheques through the door. People have been extremely supportive. Their reaction has humbled us”.

The night Idris Elba and Will Smith came to dine

Le Vacherin was in the news last year when Idris Elba and his wife Serena dined with Hollywood A lister Will Smith and their entourage and the two actors learned how to open a bottle of champagne with a sword.

“The phone rang and a lady I’d met years before said she wanted to book a table for 20 and they’d like a sharing platter. I went home to get changed” says Donna, “and when I got back to the restaurant they road outside was filled with black Mercedes and limousines and they were already there.

“We’d booked them in to the private room with its own access but they walked through the main restaurant and people’s mouths just dropped open, fork in hand”.

Le Vacherin is used to celebrities dropping in. It is accredited as a Michelin Bib Gormande and has a silver star in Harden’s restaurant guide.


Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: The High Rd loses another business to the Coronavirus

See also: Owners of the Roebuck go into administration