The interior of King of Snake

Staff at restaurants run by under-fire hospitality figure Tony Astle may yet see the pay they are owed as buyers indicate interest in taking over the establishments, which went into voluntary liquidation at the end of August. The liquidator’s reports released last week showed that staff were owed a combined $107,000 in wages and holiday pay – $68,000 at King of Snake and $39,000 for Universo. The two companies behind those restaurants, as well as other entities owned by Astle, owe creditors more than $1.3 million.

Liquidator Brenton Hunt said that there was interest in both restaurants, and that he had already received a conditional offer for King of Snake, saying he was “very comfortable with the way negotiations are going.” Selling Universo will be a bit more complex, as it is run in a space leased by the Christchurch City Council.

Building has also stopped on Chiwahwah, Astle’s new bar which was set to open on Oxford Terrace. Antony Gough, a property developer who owns the Terrace building, has been trying to secure back for the venue but building has stopped while the situation with Astle is being resolved. However, Gough is confident that a deal will be struck, potentially with Lion Breweries.

"It will open one way or another," he said. "But at this stage it's not certain how things will pan out for Tony. Obviously he is a bit short of cash but whatever happens it will open one way or the other. It's a bit sad for Tony because he is a very good operator. It will open. I'm not worried. If Tony can't pull it off then someone else will."