Firm linked to chef goes bust
The company behind a failed bid to open New Zealand’s first Jamie Oliver restaurant has been placed in receivership, owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to its Wellington landlord.
Last month it was confirmed that Keystone Hospitality Group, the Australian operator of Jamie’s Italian restaurants, was abandoning plans to open its first New Zealand restaurant in Wellington’s CBD.
The Italian restaurant was set to move into the ground floor and basement of the newly refurbished Public Trust building on Lambton Quay, which is owned by property developer and engineer Maurice Clark.
Keystone, which was placed in receivership after failing to renegotiate lending arrangements with its financiers KKR and Olympus Capital, had not paid its Wellington bills, Clark said.
The company had paid for an architect, resource consent for the fitout and a deposit on the lease but had reneged on the rent, which was hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.
‘‘I was holding back [from leasing] because they told me they would get a sub-franchise.’’
Clark was now looking for a new restaurant tenant for the building.
The receivers, Ferrier Hodgson’s Morgan Kelly and Ryan Eagle, told The Australian Financial Review that the venues will now be sold off but in the meantime Keystone would continue to trade as usual.
Keystone, owned by a group of private Sydney investors, has a number of restaurants in Australia including Jamie’s Italian Sydney, Jamie’s Italian Perth, Jamie’s Italian Canberra, Jamie’s Italian Brisbane, Jamie’s Italian Adelaide and Jamie’s Italian Trattoria.
First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said the financial issues explained more about why the company had failed to establish a business here.
Abandoning a New Zealand the project was not a reflection on Wellington and more to do with challenging cashflow, he said.
‘‘Keystone had a major stakeholding in the Sydney food and beverage scene which was particularly impacted by the ‘one-waydoor’ policy adopted across the [Sydney] CBD,’’ he said.
‘‘Many in the industry felt had a strong political leaning.’’ it
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is no longer opening a restaurant in Wellington after its operator was placed in receivership.
Wellington’s Public Trust building.