Five of George Calombaris' Made Establishment Restaurants Have Been Sold and Are Set to Reopen

Since the group entered voluntary administration, two Hellenic Republic sites, two Jimmy Grants stores and Brunswick East's Crofter Dining have been snapped up by new owners.
Libby Curran
Published on February 25, 2020

It's been two weeks since the George Calombaris-led Made Establishment Group went into voluntary administration and announced the closure of twelve of its Melbourne restaurants and eateries. And while the future still looks uncertain for most of those venues, five have already been snapped up by new owners, including the former Kew and Brighton Hellenic Republic outposts and the short-lived, vegetable-forward Crofter Dining in Brunswick East (previously the site of the OG Hellenic Republic).

In a statement last week, the group's newly appointed administrators KordaMentha confirmed they had "agreed terms for the sale of assets and the assignment of leases" of these three venues. Few details have been given for the Brighton and Kew properties, other than that the new owners had "experience in the hospitality industry" and were planning to "contact former employees of the two restaurants to discuss new job opportunities". As for chef Matt Wilkinson's former Crofter site, it's set to be the new home of The Que Club — a barbecue-focused eatery, cooking school and retail store currently located in Fitzroy North.

The Que Club owners Andrew and Pam Kavanagh told Concrete Playground that the move is planned for sometime in the next three months, and that the new venue will have an expanded food focus, while also "paying homage to Matt Wilkinson and Crofter as much as we can".

As well as continuing with his work at The Pie Shop and Four Pillars, Wilkinson, already a good mate of Andrew, confirmed he'll have some involvement at The Que Club. "I love what he (Andrew) does and he has a great ethos," Wilkinson said. "My role will be to help him make the front part of 434 Lygon Street into more of a barbecue bar and eatery, and adding some vegetables to the menu." What's more, it sounds like fans of Crofter can also get excited for the return of a favourite, as Wilkinson hands over the recipe to his much-hyped devilled chook dish.

Wilkinson took to Instagram to thank Crofter's suppliers and supporters in the wake of its sudden closure, saying he was "angry and sad about this whole scenario".

Meanwhile, according to The Age, two of Made Establishment's former Jimmy Grants souvlaki eateries have been snapped up by the owners of 24-hour Greek institution Stalactites. As well as its legendary Lonsdale Street eatery, that company also owns takeaway joint Hella Good, which it plans to replicate at its newly purchased Jimmy Grants sites in Fitzroy and Melbourne CBD.

Five other Jimmy Grants, as well as Elektra Dining in the CBD and Hotel Argentina in Williamstown remain unsold.

The Made Establishment closures come after wage scandals shook many of its restaurants, with the group admitting to staff underpayments of up to $7.8 million. KordaMentha also highlighted the resulting huge dip in patronage, as well as a dive in consumer spending, rising food prices and competition with food delivery services as reasons for the group's financial woes.

We'll keep you updated with the opening of The Que Club, the two Hella Goods and the new Kew and Brighton venues.

Top image: the OG Hellenic Republic in Brunswick East (before it was Crofter).

Published on February 25, 2020 by Libby Curran
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