Bistro blues

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - AN­GELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

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

Photo by ALI­SON GE­ORGE

Gone: pop­u­lar res­tau­rant Bistro 3

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