The hospitality empire of celebrity chef Robert Marchetti is on the brink of collapse after Crown Casino restaurant Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons was placed in liquidation with more than 100 creditors owed $1.6 million.
The restaurateur has also failed to pay substantial debts at Sydney's North Italian, which is believed to be on the market, while he is also being pursued for unpaid rent by the landlord of his former upmarket eatery, Neild Avenue, in Rushcutters Bay.
The first hint of financial difficulties came when Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons suddenly closed its doors last month, with a hand-painted sign bidding ''Ciao'' to its customers.
But the scale of the financial wreckage became clearer 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 Italian owes Crown Casino more than $217,000, while the Australian Tax Office is owed $263,330. The business had just $27,500 in the bank and stock valued at $30,000, when liquidators were appointed.
Several creditors were left furious by Mr Marchetti's failure to attend the meeting at Crown Casino, which was compounded by a tweet he sent on Friday as liquidators provided a grim assessment of his failed business.
''It's time for a long lunch! Happy Friday every1 from the team at North Bondi Italian Food. Friday, I love you,'' he posted on his Twitter account.
One supplier has already filed a suit in the Victorian County Court in a bid to recover more than $168,000 owed for seafood supplied to Marchetti's three restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney.
A writ filed by Ocean Made Seafoods alleges Marchetti and his business partner, Kimme Shaw, stopped paying bills as early as March, despite ordering up to $2700 a day worth of seafood.
Ocean Made is owed $68,038 for seafood supplied to Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons, $68,231 from North Bondi Italian, and $32,231 from Neild Avenue, according to court documents. Several other creditors are poised to take legal action against the embattled hospitality figures.
Trembath & Taylor director Matt Paul is owed $7305 for wine supplied to Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons and first heard of the restaurant's closure from media reports. His company is also awaiting payment for stock supplied to North Bondi Italian.
Prominent Sydney businessman and Roosters chairman Nick Politis also confirmed on Friday there was an ''amount of money outstanding'' from the Rushcutters Bay premises formerly leased by Marchetti's Neild Avenue 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,'' Mr Politis said.
Mr Marchetti's former business partner Maurice Terzini has also been embroiled in the collapse of Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons and owes almost $200,000 to Cucina Casalinga Italian, according to ASIC documents.
Mr Marchetti and Mr Terzini split their business partnership in March 2012, with Mr Terzini taking control of renowned Bondi restaurant Icebergs.
Mr Terzini denied any responsibility for the financial problems of his three former restaurants. ''I don't owe Rob Marchetti anything. We finalised a deal last year and I have not heard anything from Marchetti or his lawyers in more than five months. This is his problem and he needs to deal with it,'' he said.
Within days of closing Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons, Mr Marchetti left for Bali and it is unknown if he has returned to Australia. Mr Marchetti did not return calls from Fairfax Media.
But the demise of his restaurant has invoked memories of his half-brother, Bill Marchetti, who fled to India in 2001, eight days before liquidators discovered his Melbourne institution Latin and Tuscan Grill owed $1 million.