THERE are two sides to the sudden demise of Bistro 3 restaurant on Sunday night and both have more zeros in their bank balances than staff and suppliers are ever likely to see.
Bistro 3’s premises are owned by Perthbased company Pent Pty Ltd, which owns dozens of commercial properties around Australia.
Pent is owed tens of thousands of dollars in rent by the owners of Bistro 3 - Christopher Skase’s Port Douglas-based former stockbroker Tom Klinger and his Melbourne-based partner Henry Preston.
As Pent pushed for some of the repayments to be made without issuing an eviction notice which could have prompted the restaurant to be liquidated, Bistro 3’s owners opted to go into voluntary administration instead.
For the dedicated staff of Bistro 3, many who have been with the restaurant for several years, this just happened to be after service on Sunday night following their busiest weekend of the year.
The staff were informed by Mr Preston the restaurant would be closing immediately and there was no guarantee about their entitlements.
Mr Preston said he had supported the business for 11 years and came to the point where he could no longer do so.
“We ourselves had put in another $100,000 into the business in the months of January, February, March and that was paying suppliers but it proved to be not enough,” he said.
“Between the tax office and the rent we were paying, it was not sustainable and the accumulated losses with the change in demographic in town and the reduced numbers of people to town - it left us no choice but to close.
“We had two-choices - liquidation shuts it and everyone goes home and there’s nothing, but the administrator has agreed to try selling the business and sell any goods and stock.
“It’s all in the hands of the administrator.”
Disgruntled employees have posted messages on boards around town making accusations of unpaid wages, supers, entitlements and money owed to suppliers.
Mr Preston said any issues should be taken-up with the administrator, from Hall Chadwick in Melbourne.
“The staff are eligible for a government program when a business goes into administration, they can claim all their outstanding entitlements outside of their super from this government scheme,” he said.
“From my perspective it’s a very sad day for my partner, myself as well as for the town.
“We tried to contribute to the town over the last 11 years and we supported Carnivale - last week we did Palates of Port.
“Tom and I are very proud of the restaurant and what it had achieved but financially it isn’t viable anymore.
“We’re sorry for that but we can only keep supporting it for so long before we have to face reality.
“I’m devastated but in the end its there are people involved and unfortunately people get hurt.”
A creditors’ meeting will be held next week.
For more information on the Australian Government assistance General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme go to www.deewr.gov.au/geers
Gone: popular restaurant Bistro 3