MAdE Establishment venues to close as ‘gutted’ Calombaris pulls the pin on his empire

The restaurant group headed by George Calombaris has been put into administration, with all 12 restaurants and venues to close immediately.

KordaMentha have been appointed administrators to 22 companies in the MAdE Establishment following a meeting with creditors yesterday.

“The appointment excludes the Yo-Chi operations which will continue to trade as usual,” KordaMentha said in a statement.

“All other venues have stopped trading immediately. Employees have been paid all outstanding wages and superannuation up to the date of the appointment.”

The bombshell announcement comes six months after the business was caught up in an underpayment scandal, with more than 500 workers owed $7.8 million. Since the scandal broke, there has been “declining trade across venues” according to the administrators.

“A major rebranding of a number of high-profile venues including Hellenic Hotel Williamstown (relaunched as Hotel Argentina), Hellenic Republic Brunswick (recently re-opened as Crofter Dining Room) and The Press Club (relaunched as Elektra) was unable to turn the business around, despite strong reviews,” KordaMentha said.

“Other factors were generally difficult trading conditions in the hospitality industry in recent years due to the expansion of the on-demand economy via services such as UberEats and Deliveroo, increasing costs, fierce industry competition and changes in consumer tastes to favour cheaper mid-tier dining options.”

Calombaris posted a statement in Instagram, saying the last few months “have been the most challenging I have ever faced”.

“Although we have all continued to work tirelessly and overcome the many challenges we have recently experienced, it is with deep sadness and regret that today MAdE Establishment has been placed into voluntary administration,” he stated.

“To all my team, I truly regret it has come to this. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your loyalty and friendship.

“I am so sorry all our collective efforts have not provided to be enough. I’m gutted it’s come to this.”

Calombaris is consolidating his wealth, having recently sold his holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula for over $1 million and put his $4.8 million Toorak mansion on the market with an “expressions of interest” campaign.

The administrators said they would seek alternative operators for the venues and engage with other stakeholders in order to realise the group’s assets.

The first meeting of creditors will be held on February 20.