Calombaris restaurant empire had $389 left in the bank before it collapsed

George Calombaris

Source: AAP Image/Adrian Buman

The collapsed restaurant group of celebrity chef George Calombaris had just $389 in its bank account when it fell into voluntary administration earlier this month. 

According to reports filed to administrators KordaMentha, and seen by The Australian, Calombaris’ MAdE Establishment owes secured creditors $22.3 million and had amassed intercompany loans of $17.8 million. 

The collapse, which immediately affected 12 restaurants and food outlets, sent shock waves through the local hospitality industry on February 11, as venues were forced to shut their doors and hundreds of employees lost their jobs

It followed a wage theft scandal that involved the group underpaying more than 500 workers over $7.8 million.

The large-scale underpayments were widely condemned, as was Calombaris for his role in the events. According to reports, this sentiment was directly translated into action, with diners reportedly steering well clear of the venues in the months after the scandal broke. 

According to The Australian, MAdE Establishment owes Commonwealth Bank $8.5 million, which includes a $7.1 million via a finance facility and $1.46 million in bank guarantees. 

The bank is expected to recover $1 million of these funds. 

Calombaris’ business partner Radek Sali, former boss of the Swisse vitamins empire, is also a secured creditor of the business, and says he is owed $13.7 million but does not expect to see the money again. 

According to the documents, the business group’s other assets, apart from is meagre bank balance, include bar stock at a number of the restaurants. 

Hundreds of trade creditors are not expected to recover their debts from the administration process, while the Australian Taxation Office is reportedly owed at least $225,000. The Australian reports there may still be some outstanding staff entitlements, such as leave payments. 

KordaMentha have negotiated the sale of five of the MAdE outlets, including the Jimmy Grants’ venues, which were picked up by the owners of well-known Melbourne restaurant Stalactites. 

However, that still leaves seven other outlets without new owners, including Matt Wilkinson’s Crofter Dining Room, which was only open for a few weeks before closing amid the MAdE collapse.

Wilkinson took to Instagram earlier this month to express his frustration with the closure, suggesting the business would not re-open under his leadership as originally speculated.

“It’s time to say thank you and goodbye. What a whirlwind it has been,” Wilkinson said.

“I am angry and sad about this whole scenario. Angry that after 40 days of work of not seeing my wolf pack I can’t make it work,” he said.

“Angry that the lies that consume big business directors I feel will always be believed, Angry that the government can’t see our industry is in strife and offers no real support or future hope. Angry that individual smaller players in a cluster fuck like this will always loose biggest and I’m not just talking dollars.”

Creditors of the business are due to next meet on March 17.

NOW READ: Workers found out about collapse of George Calombaris’ restaurants via Instagram: A lesson in crisis communications

NOW READ: “I had two hours”: When Jamie Oliver discovered his restaurant empire was falling apart


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