ID scanning laws blamed for company crash
One of Brisbane's most prolific hospitality operators has blamed ID scanning laws for the failure of his latest venture.
Bar tsar Jamie Webb, who formerly ran award-winning Lefty's Old Time Music Hall on Caxton Street, sold the still-trading business to an employee in a controversial deal before appointing administrators to his company Majid Pty Ltd on October 31.
With no assets and an estimated $760,797 in debts, including more than $300,000 owed to related parties, Majid is virtually certain to be wound up on Wednesday at a meeting of creditors.
Webb, who previously oversaw now-defunct venues such as Gordita and Sonny's House of Blues in Brisbane, did not return a call seeking comment.
But administrator Michael Dullaway told creditors in a report last week that Webb pinpointed "the primary reason for the company's failure'' as the introduction of widely-despised lockout laws in July last year.
"Mr Webb advised that these laws had the effect of increasing costs for equipment and security staff, as well as significantly impacting customer numbers and thus revenue,'' the report said.
Yet Dullaway determined there was more to it and noted that "the company may have been insolvent for up to two years''.
He found that Majid's financial support for two other now-failed Webb-controlled companies, which ran the Hope and Anchor pub in Paddington and Gingers Wine Bar (later rebadged Seymour's Cocktails and Oysters) on Caxton Street, was "a significant reason'' for its collapse.
Webb lent them more than $205,000 before selling the still-trading Hope and Anchor to an unrelated party in March, while Seymours closed its doors next to Lefty's in late October without being sold.
Both companies are now in liquidation.
Dullaway has raised a red flag over Webb's sale of Lefty's to Arklow Pty Ltd, a company solely owned by former employee Joy Redmond, just shortly before tipping Majid into administration.
The two sides struck a deal for $17,615, but only $3815 was transferred to Majid since Webb also owed Redmond the balance from an outstanding loan of $13,800.
If he's appointed liquidator, as expected, Dullaway says he will pursue Arklow for the loan amount because he alleges it's an "unfair preference payment''.
Redmond could not be reached for comment on Monday.
In addition, Dullaway has flagged that he will investigate a potential insolvent trading claim against Majid.
Meanwhile, Webb is already getting chased by his landlord at Seymour's for personally guaranteeing lease payments and he's been hit by the ATO for more than $200,000 in unpaid PAYG tax for another one of his businesses.
The whole sorry mess is a sad coda for the 51-year-old Townsville native, who ran restaurants in Sydney and New York before returning to Queensland, where he opened Spanish-influenced Peasant at The Barracks in 2010.
He later operated wine bar Cabiria (later pivoting to Mexican under the banner of Los Villanos) at The Barracks and was a co-owner of French/Vietnamese fusion joint Libertine in the same complex.
His wife, Siarah Webb, opened Italian eatery Enzo & Sons on Caxton Street late last year and it is still operating.
40 YEARS LATER
A crowd of about 200 hospitality sector players gathered at Howard Smith Wharves on Monday night to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Brisbane Visitors and Convention Bureau, which later morphed in to Brisbane Marketing in 2000.
Among those spied in the crowd were hotel industry bosses Chris Partridge, John Douglas, Hayden Hughes, Peter Savoff and Jean-Philippe Lagarde. Convention Centre kingpin Bob O'Keeffe, Customs House director Brian Roberts and legal eagle Peter Carter were also spotted in the throng.