$300,000 BILL

Restau­ra­teur hits out as debts chased af­ter high-pro­file clo­sures

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - LINDA PARRI

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.”



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