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Popular restaurant Lone Star for sale

Instead of celebrating its ninth anniversary running Lone Star Masterton this week, Cahalita Trading Ltd is now in liquidation.

Meanwhile, the popular restaurant and bar continues to trade and is seeking a new owner.

Cahalita Trading director Tom Roseingrave told the Times-Age that he’s “definitely melancholy” about the turn of events, but to his credit one of his primary concerns is that a new owner is quickly found to take over the business and provide certainty for its “excellent” employees.

For his part, liquidator Bryan Williams of BWA Insolvency is confident of securing a buyer by the end of the year, noting that Lone Star Masterton is “a robust business that is well managed with good staff”.

“The business is profitable and has a strong sustainable future in the community,” Williams said, adding that the liquidation is the result of “historical debt and the inability to service that company debt from profits generated”.

“Yeah, Lone Star’s still trading profitably, strangely enough,” Roseingrave confirmed, “but the way we’d structured the company just wasn’t working.“

“A new owner with a different financial structure will definitely be able to make a good go of it.”

The structure of Cahalita Trading ultimately meant the company was vulnerable to the hit taken by the whole hospitality sector as a result of the covid-19 ‘traffic light’ system and the long psychological tail those restrictions appear to have had on punters’ desire to go out, even after they were binned.

The rising cost of living had compounded that issue – even though the restaurant’s patronage is up, overall spend per head is down.

“Although Michelle and I were working our guts out, it seemed clear that things would get yucky If we kept going,” Roseingrave said, so the decision was made to appoint Williams as an administrator in June.

The vast majority of Cahalita Trading’s creditors were supportive of a plan presented at a meeting in late August, but the Inland Revenue Department had sufficient voting rights as a major creditor to put the company into liquidation.

As far as Lone Star Masterton goes, “it’s still business as usual for all intents and purposes,” said Roseingrave, who was keen to acknowledge the ongoing support of regular customers who are aware of the liquidation.

Roseingrave said he and Michelle are proud of giving a large number of youngsters their start in the workforce and – with the support of Masterton Trust Lands Trust – saving the historic Seddon Building at 49 Dixon St “from the wrecking ball” [built in 1908 as New Zealand’s first technical secondary school, the building had been badly damaged and weakened by the 1942 earthquake, and was not able to be used commercially until it was refurbished in 2014, thanks to Cahalita Trading’s commitment to leasing it].

The couple remain relatively philosophical, Roseingrave said: “You’ve just got to move on and keep going, don’t you?”

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