Administrators KordaMentha have announced the sale of three Made Establishment venues ahead of the first creditor’s meeting, which will take place today Thursday 20 February.
Crofter (formerly Hellenic Republic Brunswick East) has been bought by the owner of Fitzroy North’s Que Club BBQ Andrew Kavanagh, who plans to transform the venue into an American BBQ joint, reports The Age.
Chef Matt Wilkinson, who took the helm of Crofter when it opened early in January, had expressed interest in buying the venue himself but backed away earlier this week. Wilkinson will stay on to work with Kavanagh, who is shifting his Fitzroy North venture to the Crofter space.
“It’s our intention to expand and grow our menu and Matt is going to assist with that,” Kavanagh told The Age.
The venue is set to open in March.
While the buyers of Vita Ristorante (formerly Hellenic Republic Kew) and Hellenic Republic Brighton have not yet been revealed, KordaMentha partner Craig Shepard said they’re experienced hospitality operators who intend to contact former employees to discuss new job opportunities.
The fates of Elektra (formerly Press Club), Hotel Argentina (formerly Hellenic Republic Williamstown) and seven Jimmy Grants locations remain unknown.
“There has been enormous interest in the venues, but transitioning the businesses has been complex and time-consuming,” said Shephard in a statement. “We would like to acknowledge the speed with which these purchasers and landlords have engaged with us to enable these transactions to have occurred.”
All 12 Made Establishment venues closed immediately on Monday 10 February, with the group entering voluntary administration after months of scrutiny over underpayments. The collapse left 400 employees without work, with those on visas given until May to find new sponsors.
The hospitality juggernaut’s three Hellenic Republic restaurants were re-branded in November, as the company attempted to recover from the fallout over underpayments totalling $7.8 million.
While the company self-reported the wage discrepancies and staff have been fully back-paid, the reputational damage proved irreversible. Along with declining patronage in the months since the underpayments were resolved, KordaMentha cited a softening in discretionary spending, rising food costs and pressure on margins as a result of delivery services as primary causes of the collapse.
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