29 March 2023

Pialligo Estate crisis talks come to nought, financiers move in

| Ian Bushnell
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Pialligo Estate entrance

Pialligo Estate became a destination venue for Canberrans over the past decade. Photo: Stephen Ning.

Talks to save the Pialligo Estate restaurant and function venue have fallen through and it has officially ceased trading before an expected sale.

Owner John Russell issued a statement on Tuesday night saying that the business’s financiers will take possession of the venue on Kallaroo Road, Pialligo, this morning.

“It is with a heavy heart that this evening I have to announce that Pialligo Estate has ceased trading,” Mr Russell said.

“I have been unable to make an official announcement until now due to the ongoing negotiations with our financiers. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach an agreement to continue to trade the business.”

Pialligo Estate and its associated businesses closed on Friday due to financial pressures but it had been hoped that a way forward could be negotiated with its financiers to continue trading and meet its commitments, especially to those who had booked events such as weddings.

READ ALSO Cash-strapped Pialligo Estate in urgent talks to stay in business

Mr Russell did not say how much the business owed, or how many employees were affected and whether they could be paid their entitlements.

Nor did he say if clients who had paid deposits to secure their bookings would be refunded.

But he said Pialligo Estate was a small local business and “we are very much hurting for all those affected by its closure”.

He indicated that the business would be sold, and hoped Canberra would continue to support it.

“Unfortunately, we could not negotiate with the financiers to continue to trade at Pialligo Estate,” he said.

“The future of Pialligo Estate is now in their hands. I hope that the next owner of the estate will love and care for it as much as we all did.

“We wish the future owners success and we hope that the Canberra community will continue to support them in their new business operations in the future.”

Better times: Melbourne Cup Day celebrations in 2019. Photo: Supplied

Mr Russell said the Pialligo Estate operators did everything in their power to try to keep the business running, but a decade of setbacks and finally interest rate rises had proven too much.

He said two fires, the impact of the NSW bushfires that cast a pall over the region, lost vintages, the extended impact of Covid-19, and most recently rapidly escalating interest rates had taken their toll on the business.

“Unfortunately we have finally succumbed to the impact of these events,” he said.

“During those tough times, we kept our staff and their families going and we tried our very best to assist the Canberra community to endure the lockdowns.

“We’d like to thank the Pialligo staff family, without your hard work and dedication we would not have made it these last 10 years.”

READ ALSO Pialligo Estate’s future in doubt as business faces financial heat

The Pialligo Estate complex includes the restaurant, outdoor garden, four pavilions for private dining and functions, and an olive grove, vineyard and orchard.

It opened in 2013 and established itself as a foodie and function mecca with diverse ventures and venues.

The business also operated the Pialligo at the Plot on Beltana Road, which includes a cafe and grocer, now closed, and event spaces and boutique stores.

It also ran an award-winning smokehouse, which had to be relocated from Hume to Fairbairn after a fire in 2016. Eighteen months later, another fire destroyed the farmhouse restaurant.

COVID-19 restrictions also devastated the business, as it did many in the Canberra hospitality sector.

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HiddenDragon6:41 pm 29 Mar 23

Looking forward to the articles which explain why it’s time to unlock/re-think/have a fresh look at Pialligo, including the mandatory speculation about light rail running nearby – the buyer will likely be a land banker or front for such.

Sophia Lawrance3:30 pm 29 Mar 23

Terrible that this has happened but even worse the owners must have known that things were going pear shaped and have left those with functions and weddings booked a. without a venue, and b. have taken full payment and now little hope of a refund. Shameful.

Certainly, don’t feel sorry for those that owned Pialligo Estate. But it’s an absolute shame that any workers that relied on this place for a living and those poor couples that had paid for weddings will no doubt lose all their money.

Still seeking answers about the bacon jam…

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