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Umu follows sister sites the Square and Morton's into administration as Marlon Abela's restaurant empire crumbles

03 February 2020 by
Umu follows sister sites the Square and Morton's into administration as Marlon Abela's restaurant empire crumbles

Two-Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Umu has fallen into administration, days after sister restaurant the Square and private members club Morton’s, all in Mayfair, were forced to close their doors for good.

All the sites were owned by Marlon Abela, who is also behind two-Michelin-star Mayfair restaurant the Greenhouse, which is understood not to be in administration.

Graham Bushby and Nick Edwards from RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP have been appointed as administrators to all three businesses. They have closed The Square and Morton’s Club, but Umu remains open for business while a buyer is sought.

The administrations follow action from HMRC to wind up the businesses following non-payment of VAT.

Graham Bushby from RSM said: “At this stage in the process, it is too early to comment on our strategy for the administration.

“We are working closely with management and staff in seeking a positive way forward. We understand that the current situation is uncertain for many staff members across this group of businesses and we will be looking to provide clarity as soon as we can.”

Umu opened in 2004 and was awarded its first Michelin star in less than a year with the second added in the 2015 guide. The kitchen is led by executive chef Yoshinori Ishii, who trained for nine years at the three Michelin-starred restaurant Kyoto Kitcho in Japan.

In recent years Marc Ltd, the parent company of Marlon Abela's restaurant group has been in uncertain financial health. It fell into liquidation at the end of 2018 and was only rescued by a cash injection from Abela.

In July 2019 the restaurant group reported pre-tax losses of £5.76m for the year to 31 December 2017. The accounts showed Abela was owed £47.47m by the company.

The Square was opened by Nigel Platts-Martin and Philip Howard in 1991 in St James's. It was awarded its first Michelin star in 1994 before relocating to Mayfair two years later.

A second Michelin star was awarded to the restaurant in 1998, the same year that Howard won the Chef Award at the Cateys.

The two stars were deleted in the 2017 Michelin guide following the restaurant's change of ownership. A single star was reinstated in 2018.

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