King of Snake, part of Tony Astle’s troubled restaurant empire, has been purchased by Astle’s former business partner, liquidators confirmed.

King of Snake, located on Victoria St in central Christchurch, has been sold to Mexicano Group Ltd. Mexicano’s director, David Warring, was a shareholder and operations manager in Astle’s organisation until a bitter departure in October last year. Warring and a family member bought Mexicano and The Dirty Land cocktail bar, which were originally part of the Astle group, and started their own company. Astle was banned from entering the properties after an incident earlier this year.

The sale of King of Snake was unconditional and staff would be paid all wages and holiday pay they were owed, according to liquidator Brendon Hunt, who was also confident that new operators for Astle’s other venues would be found soon.

Warring did not comment how much he paid for King of Snake, but confirmed that all staff would be retained if they chose.

The staff at King of Snake posted a message on Facebook alerting customers to the news.

“King of Snake is here to Stay!” it read. “The team at King of Snake would like our loyal customers to know that we, and your favourite dishes and cocktails are here to stay. We have retained our talented Head Chef and kitchen staff along with our dedicated front of house team who will be rejoined by the restaurant managers who took King of Snake to its award-winning status. We are excited and have plans to build and improve on a lasting legacy that began with the vision of one of Christchurch’s most talented restauranteurs.”