Justin North's portfolio of restaurants, which includes Becasse and Quarter 21, has gone into voluntary administration, making it the latest in a recent spurt of restaurants succumbing to today's difficult trading conditions.
The North Group, which includes Sydney restaurants Becasse, Etch and Quarter Twenty One as well as the Becasse Bakery, Le Grand Cafe and Charlie and Co, has, according to the Financial Review, appointed Ferrier Hodgson partners Jim Sarantinos and John Melluish.
The first creditors' meeting is scheduled for June 20, but AFR reports the administrators intend to continue trading the business as usual while they conduct an assessment of the group's financial position.
North, who operates the group with his wife Georgia, grew the business quite rapidly after establishing the original Becasse restaurant in 2005, which last year relocated to the new Westfield Sydney site. The same venue has also seen the opening of Quarter 21, the Quarter 21 Cookery School and Providore and the gourmet burger brand Charlie and Co, which also opened at Opera Kitchen alongside a Becasse Bakery outlet.
The North Group isn't the only one struggling in the Sydney hospitality scene. Manly Pavilion recently closed with debts rumoured to be close to $600,000 and Matt Kemp's Montpellier Public House suffered a similar fate, owing more than $300,000 according to Good Living.
Three-hat Sydney restaurant, Bilson's, was also forced to close its doors late last year after attempts by restaurateur and chef Tony Bilson to trade out of the business' financial problems failed. Number One Winebar in Circular Quay, which Bilson relaunched with new owners Tribalise Entertainment Group in November 2011, also shut earlier this year, a few months after the highly-respected restaurateur departed to focus on launching his own range of food products.
Justin North was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.