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Thursday 23 November 2017

TV Masterchef star's company assets seized over €140K bill

Masterchef star Nick Munier. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Masterchef star Nick Munier. Photo: Gerry Mooney

The City Sheriff has swooped on the restaurant assets of celebrity maitre d' and restaurateur Nick Munier to cover a €140,000 tax bill to Revenue.

The MasterChef star's Michelin-recommended Temple Bar eatery shut its doors in a sudden and surprise move last month after two years in business.

The closure of Avenue by Nick Munier took many by surprise, and an auction of the restaurant's equipment, fixtures and fittings is due to take place at the locked-up premises later today.

Wilsons Auctions was recruited by the management to host the sale of the goods, but the City Sheriff seized control of the property when the first viewing of the lots was made available on Saturday.

The auction will still go ahead as planned, but instead of the proceeds going to Munier, the money generated in the auction will first be used to cover the €140,000 bill in unpaid VAT and PAYE payments owed by Munier to the Revenue.

Paintings

A creditors' meeting is due to take place on May 29, but whether or not there will be any money left after Revenue is paid remains to be seen.

Fixtures and fittings at auctions rarely reach market value in bids, and it is possible the proceeds of the sale will not even cover the figure owed to Revenue.

Avenue was located in Crow Street in the heart of Dublin's Temple Bar, and was opened in April 2015 by the restaurateur famed for his appearance on MasterChef Ireland.

The auction will feature a selection of hand-crafted marble top dining tables, hand-crafted Corian dining tables with brass inlay, Brabbu-influenced hand-crafted contemporary dining armchairs and a selection of black velvet curved swivel chairs with gold trim.

The advertising by Wilsons Auctions also states that other lots will feature items by designer Richard Burke, including a three-part Corian hand-crafted dining table and a selection of tiger wood framed waiters' stations with brass detail, a Diageo-designed marble-top cocktail bar and modular pendant chandeliers, as well as a selection of paintings by Munier himself.

Catering and bar equipment will also be included, from ovens, grills, fridges and freezers to glass-washers, an ice machine and bottle fridges.

Today the restaurant lies in darkness, with the notices in the window advertising the auction, and the furniture and fittings are all labelled with lot numbers.

Munier's paintings, in his distinctive and modern style, hang on the wall, adding a splash of colour to the blue and grey interior.

Munier was not available for comment on the seizure of the restaurant's assets by the Sheriff.

The office of the Sheriff is just yards from the restaurant on the cobbled streets of Temple Bar.

When the restaurant closed, Munier posted a notice of apology and regret to patrons.

"Unfortunately, we have been left with no option but to close. Both Nick and Alanna (manager) would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to you and wish to extend our sincere thanks for all your support of the business to date," he said.

He also expressed his "heartfelt thanks" to his dynamic team of young chefs led by Felipe Armonia, along with his dedicated front-of-house staff.

"Nick, Felipe and general manager Alanna Feeney also wish to thank their regular customers - many of whom they now consider friends -whose unbridled support and loyalty since day one has been much appreciated," added the statement.

Affable

A well-known figure on the restaurant industry scene, Munier previously set up Pichet on Trinity Street, before moving on following a buyout deal in 2014.

The restaurateur and artist previously worked as a judge on RTE's MasterChef series, alongside celebrity chef Dylan McGrath, from 2011 to 2013, when they also did a celebrity version of the show.

McGrath operates a number of restaurants in Dublin, including the Rustic Stone, on South George's Street.

Munier first found fame as the affable maitre d' on Marco Pierre White's flagship show on ITV, Hell's Kitchen.

He moved to Ireland more than 10 years ago and went on to work in restaurants like Peacock Alley and Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.

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