Gallagher fury as the taxman winds up two restaurants
'It was a surprise and shock that the Collector General dealt with this matter in such a heavy-handed and costly way'
TWO restaurants run by celebrity chef Conrad Gallagher have been closed and the companies operating them wound up over a €166,000 tax bill.
The High Court yesterday said Boutique Restaurants Concepts Ltd and Super Potato Ltd -- which ran Salon des Saveurs in Dublin and Conrad's Kitchen in Sligo -- are insolvent and unable to pay their debts.
The chef reacted angrily to the legal action, saying it had been taken in a "heavy-handed, speedy and costly manner" and said he would pay back any money owed.
Ms Justice Mary Laffoy appointed Ian Lawlor of JPA Brenson Lawlor Limited as liquidator to both firms, which have registered addresses at Aungier Street, Dublin 2.
The court had heard Boutique Restaurant Concepts, which was incorporated in January 2010, owed approximately €116,000 in unpaid VAT, PAYE and PRSI. A demand for payment was served on the firm last December.
Super Potato Ltd owed the Revenue Commissioners €50,000 in unpaid VAT, PAYE and PRSI. The firm was incorporated in September 2010, and was served with a demand for payment last May.
Salon des Saveurs was closed within the last month while Conrad's Kitchen shut its doors in recent days.
Mr Gallagher's wife Candice and his mother Evelyn Gallagher are listed as directors of the firms which run the restaurants.
The judge refused an application to further adjourn the petitions to allow the companies time to see if external funding could be obtained in order to satisfy the debt.
The Revenue Commissioners opposed the firm's application for an adjournment. Judge Laffoy asked if "a bird in the hand was not worth two in the bush to Revenue". Mark O'Mahony BL for the Revenue said he suspected "there was no bird at all".
After appointing Mr Lawlor as liquidator, the judge ordered that the directors of the firms file statements of affairs and listed the matter before a sitting of the Examiners Court later this year.
Mr Gallagher last night said the money owed would be repaid.
"It was a surprise and shock that the Collector General dealt with this matter in such a heavy-handed, speedy and costly manner, with no opportunity for resolution despite several offers being made by the companies," he said.
"The first communication in relation to this issue was 16 days ago and the companies worked aggressively to settle the matter, emphasising at all times there was no question of any monies being left unpaid.
"It is worthy of note that no other parties presented themselves in support of the action despite an invitation from the Collector General to do so."
The chef operates two restaurants -- The Dining Room and The Tasting Room -- at La Stampa Hotel in Dublin. He said all staff from the two closed businesses were offered work in La Stampa.
A spokesman for the chef said the only debts owing on the two closed businesses were for tax and Mr Gallagher had committed to paying all arrears.
The Dining Room, a 190-seater restaurant which is owned by businessman Louis Murray, was opened with substantial publicity last month.
At the beginning of this month, Gallagher said he was transferring Salon des Saveurs to the same venue where it operates as The Tasting Room. He said at the time that "it's better to have my business concerns under one roof".