27 March 2023

Pialligo Estate's future in doubt as business faces financial heat

| Ian Bushnell
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The entrance to Pialligo Estate in Pialligo today. Photos: Stephen Ning.

The popular Pialligo Estate restaurant, and its function and associated business at the rural enclave near Canberra Airport, are believed to be in financial trouble.

The restaurant on Kallaroo Road has closed its doors, its website and Facebook page have been taken down, and the business is not answering calls.

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

A sales assistant at Bisonhome said the cafe and grocer were closed, but the three shops were still trading.

She said that the news came out of the blue.

“I went to get my coffee this morning and the cafe was closed,” she said.

Pialligo Estate entrance

Pialligo Estate is home to a number of ventures. Photo: Stephen Ning.

The future of the business, which was hit hard during the pandemic and has suffered two fires in recent years, remains in doubt.

There has been no official announcement or notification, and the owner, prominent Canberra businessman John Russell, is not taking calls, but it is believed a meeting is planned for Sunday.

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 runs 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.

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

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If anyone has paid a deposit by credit card you could contact your bank and see if they can do a chargeback – on the basis that the company has shut up shop, hasn’t contacted you and will not deliver the goods. Worth a try.

Abigail Valdez1:32 pm 25 Mar 23

The communication plan (lack thereof) is disappointing for clients and staff. People are left in the dark with anxiety of not knowing what’s happening with their weddings, vouchers and work etc. I like many others are sitting here with anxiety and unsure where to go forward, especially if I lose my deposit and venue. Whatever is being decided, I hope people are notified asap and can walk away with the money they are owed. Sure the company is at stake, but the people who have invested their money or time should be accommodated. The whole situation is damaging peoples finances and mental well-being. Please make a fair outcome for all.

This is starting to happen across the economy now, as if making it through the pandemic wasn’t hard enough, we then get slugged with a financial crisis, unscrupulous big business like supermarkets and electricity companies gouging massively above inflation, and the RBA wrecking ball rate rises adding to, not addressing, the problem – not surprising smaller businesses are dropping like flies, it will only get worse once the real recession hits. And what are the politicians spending time and energy on? Banning nazi symbols, attending protests and a voice no one knows much about…

brucewantstobecool10:53 pm 24 Mar 23

They are holding almost $6000 of our money for a wedding later in the year. Doubt we’ll see that again! Frustrating, at a minimum.

Dr Andrew N Brown8:30 pm 24 Mar 23

Sorry to hear this . We have a prepaid wedding for the 29th April. the email we have been provided has no detail. We don’t know where we stand . Owners please provide more detail as quickly as possible.

I hope this is just a temporary set-back after the last few hard years. Foodie paradise.

We went to dinner there once and they put on the bill, without asking, a “service gratuity charge”. When I asked what it was, I was told it was an automated tip because “it would make it easier for you”. I told them to take it off and I would decide what and how much tip to leave. At other times, I enjoyed our trips there–but that left a very sour taste in my mouth for quite a time.

They are holding a $5000 deposit my son paid for his wedding reception later this year! What chance of either getting the deposit back or the reception being held? Zero on both counts I’d say. NOT HAPPY!!

The jam….. What’s happening with the bacon jam?

Jose Fernandez3:17 pm 24 Mar 23

the make the best smoked bacon

Capital Retro1:57 pm 24 Mar 23

I have never heard of this place. I’m wondering if there are many like me.

@Capital Retro
“I’m wondering if there are many like me.” … LOL – where does one start????

But within the context of this thread I think you may well be in the minority … their popular smokehouse goods are available in many IGAs (and similar independent supermarkets) around Canberra. It will definitely be a sad loss for many Canberrans if they are not able to get back to operation.

Andrew McLaughlin1:36 pm 24 Mar 23

Oh no, love that place! Fingers crossed for a revival!

Agreed … their grocery store is amazing

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