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Resturant chain Criniti’s to close permanently

Add Italian restaurant chain Criniti’s to the list of entities knocked off by the coronavirus pandemic. News.com.au reports that the administrators had been planning to sell the company, but the national economic shut down put an end to those hopes. Criniti’s, which was swimming in more than $16.5 million of debt, is now closed for good. $15 million of that amount is reportedly owed to the Australian Taxation Office.

Earlier this month Criniti’s posted on its Facebook page that it was closing temporarily as it grappled with the effects of the pandemic.

“The wellbeing and safety of our staff, our customers and our community is our number one priority and today, we have decided to temporarily close our restaurants,” the post read.

Many more companies have been forced to do the same; time will tell how many can bounce back. It’s a difficult time for everyone. One thing is certain: a lot of people will have reason to fear a bankruptcy check when all this is over.

It was reported last November that Criniti’s had gone into voluntary administration and would be closing locations and laying off staff. A partner at Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants, which was handling the administration, said overhead and reduced retail spending were to blame for the business’s woes.

“With some locations in the group doing better than others, our first priority will be the preservation of value by identifying and closing the poorer performers, of which we expect there to be several,” he said. “These will be difficult, regrettable but necessary decisions made solely because we don’t believe the group as a whole can trade indefinitely while a buyer is found or some other solution is reached, perhaps via a Deed of Company Arrangement.”

Prior to the November announcement, Criniti’s maintained 13 locations across Australia. Administrators intended to keep seven of those in operation while looking for a buyer. But the coronavirus had other plans: the pandemic ended up costing the chain over $6 million.

“The sale process was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the purchaser withdrew their offer,” Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants told News.com.au.

As the chain’s failure became public last year, Criniti’s co-founder Rima Criniti said she was “devastated” by what was happening to her “first baby.”

“I am deeply saddened by this outcome and while I left Criniti’s almost a decade ago, I would like to thank all the people who put their heart and souls into this business over the years,” she said.

News.com.au also spoke with a number of people who had dined at the restaurant. Many of them said the food and service were subpar considering the prices.

“The food wasn’t bad, but neither was it particularly good. Same goes for the service. It really put us off returning because at the price point they were trading in there were certainly far more appealing propositions,” one customer said.