Revealed: What Jock Zonfrillo’s restaurants owe
Two companies that ran restaurants operated by celebrity chef Jock Zonfrillo - including highly acclaimed Restaurant Orana in Adelaide's East End - owe more than $1m to creditors.
The companies also have internal loans totalling almost $2.2m from Zonfrillo and his wife Lauren, or companies controlled by them, according to documents lodged with the corporate regulator.
The loans were made to entities which managed the two restaurants - The Living Room Bar Pty Ltd for Orana, and Blackwood Bistro Pty Ltd for Bistro Blackwood.
Voluntary administrators were appointed by Zonfrillo to the Living Room Bar and Blackwood Bistro.
The ATO and NAB have been listed as major creditors, lodging claims for $208,000 and $303,000 respectively.
Zonfrillo's former landlords, The Maras Group and Rundle East Company Ltd, have lodged claims for $525,354 in outstanding rent, which is being disputed.
Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) records show the sole director of the Living Room Bar and Blackwood Bistro is Zonfrillo, who also operates another company, Zonfrillo Consulting.
Administrators David Kidman and Martin Lewis have told ASIC they were undertaking preliminary investigations into whether the restaurant companies were trading while insolvent, if there had been "unfair preferences" or "potential breaches of director duties".
In a preliminary report lodged this week with the corporate regulator, they also told ASIC they were examining a loan from The Living Room Bar to Zonfrillo Consulting to buy a $135,000 Audi car.
Mr Kidman and Mr Lewis said other "related party loans" included a personal loan from Lauren Zonfrillo to The Living Room Bar, which was $275,000 in June last year. Their report said that amount had risen to $523,000 by last month.
Other loans to the company included $732,000 from Zonfrillo Consulting and $90,000 from Zonfrillo himself.
Blackwood Bistro, meanwhile, had borrowed $657,000 from the Living Room Bar, $60,000 from Zonfrillo and $125,000 from Zonfrillo Consulting.
Most of the internal loans remained outstanding when Zonfrillo used his social media accounts to announce the closure of Orana, which had not opened since March. Both Zonfrillo and his wife have lodged claims with the voluntary administrators.
Their preliminary report confirmed both restaurants had lost considerable amounts of money before their separate closures.
"The Living Room Bar (TLRB) incurred losses of $262,000 and $234,000 in the financial year 2019 and financial year 2020 respectively," it said.
It said TLRB's revenue increased from $2.3m 2018-19 to $2.9m in 2019-20, while its expenses also rose significantly from $846,000 to $1.7 million.
" … the net asset position of TLRB deteriorated from a deficiency of $718,000 at June 30, 2019, to $951,000 as at June 30, 2020, to $1.3 million by September 30, 2020."
Mr Kidman and Mr Lewis said one account held by The Living Room Bar with the Commonwealth Bank "had no funds at the date of our appointment" while a second account "had reached its overdraft limit of $50,000".
"TLRB also operated an account with ANZ," they said. "As at our appointment there were no funds in this account."
According to the creditors' report, staff had been paid their full entitlements, with only $1000 outstanding.
In a statement attached to the report, Zonfrillo - who moved with his family to Melbourne earlier this year - said COVID "forced us to close our doors back in March".
"COVID, combined with our lease ending in a couple of months, continuing uncertainty regarding tourism and hospitality, plus the current restrictions have meant we couldn't break even if we reopened," he said.
"Thinking back to the start of 2020 we had hoped this would be one of our best years yet.
"As we packed up the restaurant in March we had no idea how long the situation would last for and none of us thought it would mean the end.
"But despite our best efforts it is the end."
Zonfrillo said he appointed KPMG as voluntary administrators to help him wind up the companies and "work on a solution with our small pool of trade creditors, gift card holders, the ATO, landlord and the bank".
"We are up to date with paying staff their leave, redundancies and superannuation, and all our lodgements to the ATO," he said.
Mr Kidman and Mr Lewis, who did not respond to requests for comment, will present a second report to creditors at a meeting scheduled early next month.
Comment was also sought from Mr Zonfrillo's lawyers and PR representative.
Originally published as Revealed: What Jock Zonfrillo's restaurants owe