George Calombaris’ Restaurant Empire Is Reportedly On The Verge Of Collapse

The restaurant empire spearheaded by now-former MasterChef judge George Calombaris is reportedly staring down the barrel of total collapse, with the company looking at appointing a voluntary administrator as early as today as the group’s finances struggle under the strain of a massive $7.8 million wage theft scandal.

Reports suggest that The Made Establishment, the parent company that controls various Calombaris-founded eateries like Gazi, Hellenic Republic, and Jimmy Grants, is holding crisis talks today where a decision on the future of the company will be made.

Should an administrator be appointed, that would leave some 500 workers at 18 restaurants facing an uncertain future. However it’s understood that any potential deal would see all employees and creditors receive full payouts.

The spectacular fall of the company comes on the heels of a mountain of bad press following the underpayments scandal, which broke in 2017 after company self-reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Company financier, former Swisse head honcho and rich lister Ramek Sali, bought into Made in 2016, and it was his staff that subsequently uncovered the $7.8 million wage theft issues that lead to the company handing itself in to the Fair Work Commission. Following that self-reporting, the company repaid all $7.8 million it owed to staff in backpay and unpaid superannuation.

It’s understood a range of options for the future of the company are being put on the table, including an administrator selling off underperforming venues, or offering to sell venues to existing operators.

A raft of Hellenic Republic outlets have already undergone rebranding, including the flagship Brunswick East location which reopened as the Crofter Dining Room & Bar in December.

At the time the scandal broke, Calombaris told the ABC’s 7:30 “we aren’t closing our restaurants, we’re here, and it’s my job as their leader to keep pushing forward and keep speaking this message, not shying away from the mistake we made, but also acknowledging that we fixed it.”

Whether or not that claim remains true now, some three years later and with all signs pointing to doomsday, obviously remains to be seen.

Officals representing Made have yet to issue public comment on the matter.