NYC-Inspired Alabama Eatery Turns to Kickstarter to Stay Afloat

Crowdfunding is taking a culinary turn in Huntsville, AL, where a first-time restaurant owner is hoping to get his business up and running again.

New York-inspired eatery Urban Chez was only in operation for two months before its owner, Warran Siao, realized that his predictions for the company had been off. He told that he “jumped into it a little too fast without really getting all of the details nailed down.”

Food costs that should have been in the 25% range were in the 75% range, and labor was at 98% when it should have been at 30%. Much of the restaurant still wasn’t finished, and the kitchen was not running efficiently.

“I closed it down before we got deeper into the hole and we regrouped all of our staff,” Siao told “We took our menu, we did a deep dive into it to see how it looked and why the numbers were not coming out right.”

Siao hopes to reopen the eatery in November in the same location: a 2,800-square-foot space in Promenade Point that’s been closed to customers for months while its owners regroup and reorganize. To support their efforts, their raising money through a Kickstarter campaign.

The popular crowdfunding service has attracted 7.2 million “backers” and $1 billion in pledges for different 72,000 different projects since it began in 2009. The appeal of Kickstarter is also its biggest potential drawback, however: only campaigns that reach their intended fundraising goal in a specified time limit will receive the pledged funds. This sense of urgency has worked in favor of stronger campaigns, and tends to weed out weaker ones.

Many of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns already had a great deal of online support thanks to measures like content marketing, a tactic that is believed to be either “very” or “somewhat” effective for SEO by about 92% of marketers. Others used an existing fanbase as a jumping-off point, like Youtube star Freddy Wong’s highly successful Video Game High School webseries.

Siao is looking to raise $25,000 by Oct. 31, enough to keep the business afloat and hire restaurant experts to help until business takes off. At the time of publication, they’ve only raised $760.

“It’s a little bit scary because you want to say this is how much we’d like to raise and this is how much we need, but at the same time, it’s like the Rubicon,” General Manager Rebel Judge told “If you don’t cross it, you see all those folks who were willing to help you, and it kind of all goes away.”