Liquidators in charge at city bar

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 26/01/2013

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A Palmerston North restaurant with a history of tax evasion and a death hoax devised by a jilted lover has closed, leaving diners scrambling to rearrange plans.

Mao Bar on George St was shut yesterday, with a sign in the window saying its parent company, Alan Rowell Investments Limited, had been placed into liquidation.

The Manawatu Standard understands staff were told of the closure on Thursday afternoon.

Owner Alan Rowell said he was too busy to discuss the liquidation until next week.

Lyn Carey of McKenzie & Partners is listed as being in charge of the liquidation, but did not return calls.

News of the closure came as a surprise to some, especially those with tables booked at the restaurant.

Jenna Exton said she spoke to staff at Mao Bar on Wednesday about booking a table of 20 for brunch the day after her wedding.

"I only found out they had closed down when a friend emailed me.

"I then had to email everyone again and tell them not to worry. Luckily I secured a booking elsewhere."

She said she had left a phone number and email address with the restaurant so they could get in touch, but heard nothing.

"I do understand that they may not have had much notice and/or time, [but] I'm sure the owner could have [got details from the] reservation book to let people know."

Established about six years ago, the George St business was purchased by Mr Rowell at the end of 2010.

At the time, he said he had been a regular for four years before buying it off former owner Richard Soper.

He said he had about 19 staff in both full and part-time roles.

However, Mr Rowell put the business up for sale late last year, priced at $200,000.

Soper was found guilty of 55 tax evasion charges dating from October 2009 to October 2010 after failing to pay Inland Revenue $114,429 in taxes while he ran the bar.

He purchased Mao Bar from his partner, Tina Louise Hulena. Her company, Takau Bay Developments, was also put into liquidation because of unpaid tax.

In 2010, Brook Jonathan Trye was sent to prison after concocting a bizarre hoax implicating Mao Bar in the death of a diner. The ruse was aimed at an ex-girlfriend of Trye's who was working at the restaurant and at the time Mr Soper said it had damaged the business' reputation.

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- Manawatu Standard

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