Restaurateur hits out as debts chased after high-profile closures
THE company behind a trio of failed Perth restaurants is being pursued for more than $300,000 by a landlord and suppliers.
The Sunday Times has confirmed there are five summons issued against Element WA, which ran The Trustee, Beaufort Local and Enrique’s School for Bullfighting.
They include a summons for $221,322.07 issued by Benjamin and Co which owns the buildings that house Beaufort Street Local and Enrique’s School in Highgate.
Scott Taylor, 40, co-director of Element WA, which was placed into voluntary administration last week, disputes the amount.
“That number doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said this week.
Mr Taylor declined to reveal how much his company owes the bank, the Australian Taxation Office or The Trustee landlord Brookfield Place, which he described as “arrogant” and “truculent”. “Brookfield I don’t give a f--- about,” he said. “The bank I don’t care about. But the local suppliers, if it’s true we owe that, everybody will get taken care of.”
Red Letter Wines owner Grayson Durham has issued a summons for $3747.41, a figure Mr Taylor also disputes.
“I went in there and tried to get some of the wine back and they wouldn’t give it to me,” Mr Durham said. “Then I went back again and (the staff) said, ‘It’s not here. We’ve sold it anyway’.”
Mr Durham said Mr Taylor called him vowing to repay him within a week. So far, Red Letter Wines has not been paid.
Another wine company, Grape Expectations, has issued a summons for $5343.85 and sanitation company Kelair Holdings is chasing $882.20.
Vic Vitsas, co-owner of Morley Growers Market, said he was owed $75,000 but had not taken court action. Mr Taylor said he plans to repay the debt and hopes to continue business with Morley Growers Market.
Mr Taylor said he plans to pay all his creditors. His restaurants are being offered as a trade sale.
He said he put the businesses into administration to THE TRUSTEE ensure the creditors and staff were protected.
“I just couldn’t face the idea of them going into Christmas and not having a job,” he said. “So the process of voluntary administration means that they get continued employment and all of their entitlements are protected by law.”
Mr Taylor blames high start-up costs and unreasonable rents for the failure of his businesses.
“For 21⁄2 years, I’ve been jumping up and down, writing it in 100-foot letters in the sky, doing interpretive dance, using f------ crayons and butcher’s paper to try and get my point across to the bank and the landlords, that if they don’t change and understand that the economic conditions have changed and the leases that we signed at the top of the market are no longer appropriate,” he said.
Mr Taylor said he was paying $250,000 a year in rent at Beaufort Street Local and Enrique’s School, and $650,000 a year at Trustee.
“In the days when The Trustee was turning over $8 million a year, no problem,” he said. “When the number drops to $4.5 million — problem.”
Mr Taylor plans to open a new venture, The Butcher’s Arms, in the former Chop House site at 200 St Georges Terrace this week. “The reason for opening this new place is not so I can just wipe my hand of the old place and shrug my shoulders and go, ‘Oh well’,” he said. “I can’t walk around in this town owing people money. I just can’t do it. I can’t make it appear magically, but what I can do is do good business and continue to put business through those creditors that have supported us.”