Aspiring Chinese chain crowd-funds kitchen fit-outs

Chop Chop Haymarket

A highly-rated Chinese restaurant from Edinburgh that once appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s TV show could be about to expand nationally after launching a crowdfunding appeal to finance its ambitions. FEJ reports.

It didn’t take Chop Chop long to make an impression after opening its first restaurant back in 2006. The site proved a massive hit with its take on traditional north eastern Chinese dishes, attracting rave reviews and gaining the accolade of ‘Best Chinese Restaurant in Scotland’ inside two years.

Awards for ‘Britain’s Favourite Chinese Restaurant’ followed in 2010 and 2012, with an appearance on Gordon Ramsay’s F-Word TV show sandwiched in between for good measure. As popularity built, a new store was launched in Glasgow and both have now boasted AA Rosettes for consecutive years.

The two restaurants today turn over £1m a year between them and have a loyalty membership of more than 20,000 after launching a unique diner rewards programme six years ago. Founder Jian Wang, meanwhile, travels to China every year in her quest to find authentic, simply and healthy dishes for its menu.

With the founders now ready to roll out more stores, Chop Chop teamed up with crowdfunding specialist Angels Den to raise investment for pursuing its ambitious plans and secure finance for capital equipment purchases.

The company requires funds to complete the £430,000 construction and pre-opening costs of its first site in Mitchell Street, Glasgow, with any surplus funds allocated to supporting future sites.

Investors could put in anything from £100, which buys them one share in the business and vouchers worth £125 in its restaurants, to £5,000, which promises multiple shares and a host of VIP benefits. Chop Chop set a minimum target of £160,000 for the crowdfunding and at the time of going to press had raised £184,951, a subscription rate of 116%.

On its website, Angels Den offers a clue to why investors have found the brand attractive, calling it “much more than just another Chinese restaurant”. It states: “The decor, ambience, cuisine and serving style are all very different.”

Chop Chop’s founders certainly feel it is an excellent time to expand, noting on the website that the appetite for inexpensive, interesting dining experiences continues to grow. “Numerous small chains of ethnic restaurants and noodle bars, including Thai, Vietnamese and Pan Asian, have been established over the past five years to meet the rising demand. So far, however, there has not been a recognisable chain of Chinese restaurants. Chop Chop offers a very distinctive, inexpensive dining experience.”

Those that have tracked Chop Chop from the outset have seen its profile ascend over recent years, but it could be that the story is only just beginning.

Profile

Name: Chop Chop
Speciality: North eastern Chinese cuisine
Stores: 2 (Edinburgh, Glasgow)
Turnover: £1m
Founded: 2006
Target: National expansion

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