As East Nashville's Butcher & Bee charges toward an opening later this month, owner Michael Shemtov and his team have decided to take a somewhat unique approach in getting this project, along with their Charleston bakery and cafe Workshop, to the finish line financially: they're launching a Kickstarter campaign.
Announced today, Shemtov has set a goal of $70,000 (which has to be met by Saturday, Dec. 19 at 10:59 p.m.), with funds raised earmarked "to pay the artists and makers who help [them] create the environment you love and expect from Butcher & Bee." Pledge rewards run the gamut from a 'high five' and thank you ($5) to a date night for two at Butcher and Bee Nashville ($100). And if you're really feeling generous, a $10,000 contribution will get you either a full buyout of one of their restaurants for a night, or an off-site event for 125 guests catered by Butcher & Bee.
Shemtov explained the reasons for the campaign in an email to Eater:
[O]ne of the reasons [for the campaign] which I've thought about a great deal is that the artwork and finishes happen at the end, once you've already gone over budget (and past your timeline) on construction, furniture, pre-opening rent, etc. People probably don't realize it but starting this fall, every day we went over schedule was another $2k in additional costs (rent, payroll, overhead, construction overruns). This stacks up quick and what happens is you tend to squeeze the elements that come in at the end - which is actually the stuff that really makes the aesthetic. [I]t's a process that's referred to as "value engineering" - or as I say - taking all the nice shit that you spec'ed months earlier and replacing it with less expensive options that you found last minute. There is some element of that in every job, including B&B East Nashville. But what I kept thinking about through the month of October is that it's crazy that a GC will tell you that it costs $2,000 to move a wall four inches, and you sign off on that, but then you turn around and negotiate with an artist over a few hundred bucks, without any sense of impropriety.I realized that the people who are in the worst position to get squeezed are the ones who end up getting squeezed, and this gave us the push to move forward w[ith] a crowd funding campaign to avoid this situation.
When we raise money from investors, we have to make sure they are comfortable w[ith] the idea that we are principled and have core beliefs that mean we will not always make decisions based on short term economic gains. Raising it from our customers gives us more flexibility in how we operate and what policies we set, it lowers our borrowing costs, and gets more guests in the door with a sense of pride and the involvement with the restaurant. I think it is actually an interesting funding model that we will see more of over time. It's really difficult to pull it off with class, which I believe is what has held other established restaurateurs from trying it. We spent a ton of time thinking about this challenge, and I hope we've pulled it off.