What started as a pipe dream for Sylvia and Darren Cheverie isnow one step closer to a reality, and it could be as piping-hot as their cuisine. Thanks to a successful campaign on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, the Beaumont-based couple are moving forward with their French-Canadian restaurant, Chartier, slated to open its doors in January.
The Cheveries’ 60-day campaign, which ended in May, raked in $107,975, making the endeavour the most successful restaurant Kickstarter so far in Canada.
“We’re really overwhelmed with the support,” says Sylvia, who wanted to start a dream restaurant with her husband after both spent years working as managers in the hospitality industry. “And we knew Beaumont was the right place for it.”
It also helped that Beaumont, three kilometres south of Edmonton, was lacking in French cuisine. “Because Beaumont has all this really rich French history, it seemed weird to us that there was no French restaurant,” says Sylvia. “One of the best ways to celebrate culture is through food.”
Before any celebration could take place, the Cheveries checked out Kickstarter to see if the idea would fly. “We wanted to test the concept,” says Sylvia. “We didn’t want to get down to $500,000 worth of equipment and construction and find out it was something that people didn’t want.”
They also pored over restaurant projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo to find out what worked. “We wanted to add a lot of credibility to it,” says Sylvia. “We wanted to paint a picture with our logo, interior design, the food and history. The more of a picture we painted, the more people would feel like it would already exist.”
The pitch, complete with a video and several donor incentives – including mentions on the website and the restaurant’s family wall – proved the Cheveries did their homework, says Kickstarter spokesperson Justin Kazmark.
“This series of rewards looks very thoughtful,” he says, adding that nearly 7,000 projects are active on Kickstarter at any given moment. “It seems to revolve around the ideas that backers can access the experience they’re creating.”
With roughly a quarter of what they need in cash to move forward and a location already picked out on Beaumont’s main street, the Cheveries are working on the menu. They planto include beef, chicken, rabbit, duck and venison dishes prepared in French-Canadian ways, as well as their own takes on tourtire, charcuterie, foie gras and poutine.
Sylvia says, with 25 per cent of the money raised, they can now get loans for the remaining cash that they need.
Given that most of the donors were from Beaumont, she hopes the restaurant will be busy once operational. “With Kickstarter, we now have a lot of loyal customers before we even open.”