‘Why can’t we have outside seating?’ asks chef

Chef and restaurateur Gary Usher makes desperate plea to Liverpool City Council to allow his Wreckfish Bistro to have outdoor seating as the venue faces a tough trading period. Tony McDonough reports

Wreckfish Bistro in Seel Street in Liverpool has been told it can’t have outdoor seating


Leading North West chef and restaurateur Gary Usher says he “needs help” to change Liverpool City Council’s stance amid its refusal to allow outdoor seating at his Wreckfish Bistro.

Gary opened Wreckfish in Seel Street, in the Ropewalks area of the city in 2017 following a £200,000 crowdfunding push. Since then the restaurant has proved popular with the city’s diners.

However, with the weather now getting much warmer Gary says the venue is now being put at a significant competitive disadvantage because, unlike other outlets in the areas, it won’t allow him to put tables outside.

He posted a video on Twitter (now X) on Tuesday afternoon appealing for help in reversing the authority’s decision.

“We have been open a long time now,” he said. “We are the only place serving food and drink in and around that area that doesn’t have outside furniture. We have applied four times now and we keep getting rejected.

“All of our neighbours have furniture and, for some reason, they are telling us it affects the pedestrian pathway, which is bull***t. 

“So we are really lost with this and we are about to go into our quiet season when we really struggle. We need help. We need to be able to offer food and drink to people outside when it is sunny.


Interior of Wreckfish Bistro in Seel Street in Liverpool
Gary Usher
Gary Usher made his plea via Twitter on Tuesday  Image by Natural Selection Design


“We really need help from someone in Liverpool that is connected to the council. We are an independent business and we are trying to survive in the worst economic times that I have ever been involved in in my life. 

“If there is anyone that can help us… does anyone know why we can’t have outside seating when all the other places do.”

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Gary has opened a number of restaurants in Merseyside and Cheshire via crowdfunding campaigns. Burnt Truffle in Telegraph Road in Heswall was his second venue, and his first opened using crowdfunding. 

In late November 2023 he took to social media to issue a “use us or lose us” to local diners in Wirral as he feared a downtown in trade, coupled with soaring costs, would lead to the venue having to close.

A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council told LBN: “Liverpool was a pioneer in finding ways to enable hospitality businesses to use outdoor spaces following COVID, but this has to be balanced with pedestrian safety.

“Wreckfish applied last September but unfortunately the application was refused due to limited space and proximity to the informal crossing.

“They made a subsequent application but the layout proposed did not  match our own assessment of the distances involved. We are however happy to look at the issue again and will review the decision.”

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