George Calombaris’ empire collapse shook the food industry to its core. Now, the full financial damage has been revealed.
George Calombaris’ empire collapse shook the food industry to its core. Now, the full financial damage has been revealed.

Full scope of Calombaris’ restaurant debt revealed

George Calombaris' now-defunct restaurant empire left secured creditors out of pocket by $22.3 million after it collapsed following an explosive wage theft scandal.

The celebrity chef's full woes came to light in administrative documents which showed there was a scant $389 left in the company bank account when it shut down earlier this month.

In addition to these woes, the businesses lender, the Commonwealth Bank, is owed a whopping $8.8m.

A first meeting of creditors last week heard that the Commonwealth Bank will get about $1 million back.

Richlister Radek Sali, who kept the business alive by ploughing in his own money, has also has businesses that are owed $13.7m, according to administrator documents.

But Mr Sali has already said he does not expect to get anything from any administration or liquidation.

Mr Sali has wealth estimated at around $390m and it was executives he hired who discovered MAdE's staff underpayment problems when he brought into the company in late 2016.

The figures are early estimates based on the company's own figures, the administrator will have final figures in its March 10 report.

The administrator's report shows MAdE Establishment had bank accounts left over but no motor vehicles, plant or equipment, inventory, property or other assets.

Master Chef judge George Calombaris’ empire collapsed earlier this month. Picture: AAP/Image
Master Chef judge George Calombaris’ empire collapsed earlier this month. Picture: AAP/Image

The 3pm administrator's meeting held last Thursday took place at KordaMentha's Rialto Tower headquarters and was attended by about 80 people.

It heard administrators KordaMentha say they were to recommend the business be put into liquidation at a meeting on March 17.

More than 200 smaller unsecured creditors - such as suppliers and tradespeople - are understood to have a series of smaller debts owed to them which may struggle to be repaid.

They were not revealed in the document lodged with the corporate regulator.

Calombaris' MAdE Establishment business appointed restructuring experts KordaMentha on February 10 as it collapsed into voluntary administration.

Administrators had been working feverishly to find new owners for the 12 venues and save some of the 400 jobs the empire supported.

KordaMentha have now sold five restaurant leases but does not expect to make any more sales of the remaining seven. It will recommend creditors vote to liquidate the company at a meeting on March 17.

The meeting was also told employees were owed $400,000 in remaining leave payments. Other remaining redundancy entitlements could take this to over $1m.

Upon liquidation, restructuring experts KordaMentha will assist former employees to access the Fair Entitlements Guarantee scheme for any unpaid entitlements. It is understood to be confident they will get entitlements owed to them.

The MAdE business already paid outstanding wages and superannuation the day the company was shut.

MADE majority owner Radek Sali and MADE CEO Leigh Small at Calombaris’ Hellenic restaurant in Melbourne. Picture: David Geraghty/The Australian
MADE majority owner Radek Sali and MADE CEO Leigh Small at Calombaris’ Hellenic restaurant in Melbourne. Picture: David Geraghty/The Australian

"We do not currently hold offers capable of acceptance for the remaining seven venues as we have run out of time," administrator Craig Shepard said last week.

"We encourage any further expressions of interest to be made direct to the relevant landlords."

The owners of late night souvlaki destination Stalactites have been revealed as the saviour of two of George Calombaris' Jimmy Grants restaurants.

Sources confirmed the owners are the prospective owners of the duo of Jimmy Grants stores - pending landlord approval.

The Jimmy Grants Emporium site and the original shop in Fitzroy are the stores likely to be sold to the owners of Lonsdale Street's Stalactites and Elizabeth Street's Hella Good. It is reported the Jimmy Grants stores will trade under the Hella Good name.

Meanwhile, it was also revealed one of Melbourne's top American-style barbecue ­experts will take over George Calombaris's original Hellenic Republic site.

The rebranded Crofter Dining site has been taken over by husband-and-wife team Andrew and Pam Kavanagh, who run barbecue-focused The Que Club in Fitzroy North.

Andrew Kavanagh confirmed to the Herald Sun the business would be relocating to the Crofter site, possibly with a soft opening in mid-March, and the Que Club would expand its dinner hours.

jeffrey.whalley@news.com.au



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