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  • Apprentice & Master Chef Star Gets Restaurant & bar and backing from MSIF

    Apprentice & Master Chef Star Gets Restaurant & bar and backing from MSIF

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A former contestant from The Apprentice and previous winner of Head Chef, the Irish version of Master Chef, have launched a joint eatery and cocktail venue in Liverpool’s trendy Castle Street area with backing from business funding provider MSIF.

Izakaya offers Japanese-inspired cuisine including sushi, oysters, tempura and katsu to eat in or take away.

There is also an extensive drinks menu comprising classic and house cocktails, Japanese beers, Sak̕e and a wine list which includes several English wines.

The business has been set up by directors Kurt Wilson and Harry Marquart. Mr Marquart, who is the chef, previously worked at Michelin starred restaurants Pollen Street Social in London and the Chester Grosvenor and has also worked at the high end London Carriage Works restaurant in Liverpool.

MSIF has provided a £50k investment towards the total project cost of around £85k with the directors funding the remainder.

Director Kurt Wilson said: “Liverpool has such an exciting food and drink scene. The area around Castle Street is booming with lots of independent bars and restaurants nestled in amongst the big names. Because it’s in the business district it offers great opportunities for trade during in the day and in the evening."

“Casual dining is very popular. People don’t want a three course meal when they go out anymore; they want good quality food in a friendly and relaxed environment where they can socialise with family, friends and colleagues."

“We offer express lunches and take away to cater for the midweek business crowd but in the evening it’s much more about going out for a few drinks with some delicious food on the side. We’re aiming for a 50/50 split of customers wanting food or drink."

“There are no other casual Japanese dining options in the city so we’re launching something completely different. Harry is a fantastic chef with lots of experience and specialist expertise in preparing and cooking fish having worked at an award winning fish restaurant in his native Ireland."

“MSIF have been amazing. I’ve raised business funding before which was a difficult and lengthy process but with MSIF it was completely different. They helped us step by step through the funding process which made it a stress-free experience. MSIF are more than just a finance provider. They understand businesses and have in-depth knowledge of the local market place and lots of contacts with business support providers in the area which has been a great help. The support we’ve had and continue to receive has really made a difference to us."

“We will shortly launch our outside catering offering for external events, parties and meetings. We are also in the process of getting a pavement licence. If we are successful, we want to install bi-fold doors which we can open during the summer months and will double the size of the restaurant.”

MSIF investment manager Andy Jones said: “Despite being young, Kurt and Harry are very experienced and have an impressive track record within this industry. They’ve opened in an up and coming area of the city which is in the heart of the business district and also near to lots of the tourist attractions and the cruise terminal so there’s plenty of passing trade. I’m really pleased to be supporting the business and wish them every success.”

Izakaya currently employs 14 staff. Projected turnover this year is £700k.

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