Jamie's Italian Parramatta has become the second victim of the restaurant group's collapse, unexpectedly shutting its doors on Monday after its new management failed to reach a rental agreement with the site's landlord.
The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group (Australia) Pty Ltd collapsed in April, less than a year after the celebrity chef made an appearance down under to relaunch the six restaurants operating under his name – and not long after it had been revealed his UK operation was floundering in debt.
The Canberra restaurant closed immediately.
As the company was placed into voluntary administration, its other five restaurants – in Sydney CBD, Parramatta, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide – received a lifeline from the Brisbane-based Hallmark Group.
But Hallmark, which is best known as the owner of Brisbane Irish pub Finn McCools, appears to be struggling to take control of the Jamie's Italian empire's Australian arm.
Fairfax Media understands the group had asked for significant concessions to the lease arrangement at the Parramatta site, while the landlord, Aussie Homes Loans CEO James Symond, wanted additional bond after providing Jamie's Italian with a lease incentive for the original 10-year agreement.
Property manager Anthony Khoury said Hallmark requested a new lease incentive that equated to $255,000 over 18 months, and the company refused to provide details of their financial position.
"I don’t know their establishment in Brisbane and they’ve provided us with no financials and no experience. They’ve given us no security or confidence," he said.
Mr Khoury said he sent an email to the group on Monday proposing they provide a bond on top of the existing rental agreement.
He promptly received a response saying the restaurant would be closing that day.
In a statement, Hallmark told Fairfax Media: "The landlord has refused to engage in any talks or any form of collaboration around the current high lease terms.
"Their refusal to even discuss rent options means we've been sadly left with no other viable options other than to close the restaurant. We would like to thank our customers and staff for all their support."
A sign taped on the door of the restaurant overlooking Centenary Square confirms it "is now closed".
"Jamie's Italian would like to thank all our loyal customers in Parramatta and we look forward to welcoming you to our closest restaurant – Jamie's Italian at 107 Pitt Street, Sydney."
While Mr Khoury said his client was "disappointed" that an agreement could not be reached to keep the restaurant in the space, he said he's found "a much better tenant".
He wouldn't say who would be replacing Jamie's Italian, except that it is a "completely different and very well established chain".