Celebrity chef's restaurants in the red

Fallen empire: Robert Marchetti owes millions.
Fallen empire: Robert Marchetti owes millions. Photo: Tamara Dean

The hospitality empire of prominent restaurateur Robert Marchetti is on the brink of collapse with more than 100 creditors owed $1.6 million.

The celebrity chef has failed to pay substantial debts at Sydney's North Bondi Italian, which was placed on the market last month, while he also owes significant outstanding rent to Sydney Roosters chairman Nick Politis, who was landlord at his former restaurant, Neild Avenue in Rushcutters Bay.

The first hint of a financial meltdown came when Mr Marchetti's Crown Casino eatery, Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons suddenly closed its doors last month with a hand-painted sign bidding ''Ciao''. But the scale of the financial wreckage was revealed at a creditors' meeting on Friday, where more than 50 suppliers and 30 staff discovered they were unlikely to recoup their losses.

According to documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Mr Marchetti's company, Cucina Casalinga Italiana Pty Ltd, owes Crown more than $217,000, while the Australian Taxation Office is owed $263,330 in unpaid tax. The business had just $27,500 in the bank and stock valued at $30,000 when liquidators were appointed. Mr Marchetti added to his creditors' anger by failing to attend the meeting on Friday.

One supplier, Ocean Made Seafood, has already filed a lawsuit in the Victorian County Court to recover debts that include $68,231 from North Bondi Italian and $32,231 from Neild Avenue. The documents allege Mr Marchetti and business partner, Kimmie Shaw, stopped paying bills in March, despite continuing to order up to $2700 worth of seafood a day.

Mr Politis confirmed there was an ''amount of money outstanding'' from the Rushcutters Bay premises formerly leased by Mr Marchetti's restaurant, which he offloaded in July.

''At this stage, they haven't breached any agreement because an arrangement was put in place for the outstanding money to be paid over the next three or four months.

''I was unaware of any creditors' meetings and shortfalls. … Sounds like there's a storm coming,'' Mr Politis said.

Mr Marchetti did not return calls from Fairfax Media.

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