IN the time of a competitive food market and the rising costs of a restaurant experience, a group of foodies from Durham are looking to give people an affordable tasting menu for under £40.

All they need to do is raise £100,000 through crowdfunding to lift the idea off the ground.

The new restaurant, named Coarse, will be based in the City of Durham and has been branded as “British/European bistro food, without breaking the bank,” as well as “affordable, informal dining experience infused with creativity and a good time” by the owners of the ‘concept’.

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As the brainchild of Ruari MacKay, who will be the head chef and co-owner of the venture, the restaurant is not yet up and running but the ideas for Coarse are alive and kicking.

When open, the restaurant will be just off Market Place in the historic city, but the exact location is yet to be confirmed.

From day one, people who visit the restaurant can expect experimental dishes, with Ruari, a well-known name in the North East food scene, training with Michelin-star restauranteur Terry Laybourne in Jesmond Dene House.

The Northern Echo: Coarse is looking to bring fine dining for affordable prices to a wider audience.Coarse is looking to bring fine dining for affordable prices to a wider audience.

Most recently, Ruari has been head chef at The Traveller's Rest, changing it from a traditional pub into something that "harbours some of the best plates of food in the North East".

Ruari said: “Tasting menus might make you think ‘fine dining’ - but that’s not us - we’re more ‘fun dining’. 

“We want to keep things unpretentious. Simple. Something a little different to usual, made fresh on site everyday using local ingredients. 6 courses for £35.”

After looking for over a year, Ruari and his other co-owners, Gemma Robinson and Craig Lappin-Smith, have confirmed that they’ve finally found the perfect premises right in Durham city centre. According to the trio, the building is “full of character, has exposed brick, and space for 40 people.”

To make their dream a reality, Ruari, Gemma and Craig have called on the online community for help, using the unconventional method of financing a restaurant through Kickstarter.

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With tight deadlines to get everything done, the co-owners have given themselves just a month to find £100,000 and keep the dream alive.

While they don’t expect people to “just finance the whole project,” Coarse has some culinary cards up its sleeve.

Every person that pledges money gets their name on the back of the menu forever. Coarse are also offering loads of other unique experiences, including getting a dish named after you, two invitations to the launch night, a private meal in your own home for up to ten people or even private use of the entire restaurant for up to 40 people.

The Northern Echo: The co-owners of Coarse have given themselves just a month to find £100,000 to fund the venture.The co-owners of Coarse have given themselves just a month to find £100,000 to fund the venture.

Co-owner of the restaurant, Craig Lappin-Smith, said: “We need to raise £100,000, which, combined with our own personal investments, will secure the site and get us off the ground.

“Crowdfunding in way of funding a restaurant might not be common, but more and more chefs are turning online to get projects started.

“We want to take the people of Durham on the journey with us, we want to make it a community and affordable place and cater for everyone.

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“We want to have students, families, vegetarian people attending and everyone else. It’s all about accessibility – what’s the point in having three people in a restaurant where the bill is in its thousands?

“Giving something back for people’s pledges was important too – there’s some exclusive and intriguing opportunities on the Kickstarter page.”

“There’s little risk in this venture because if we don’t reach £100,000 in the month, people won’t be charged, and no money will come from their cards.”

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