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Cape Town - The estate of Richard Griffin, owner of dinner theatre establishment Madame Zingara, has been provisionally wound up by the Western Cape High Court.
Judge Anton Veldhuizen granted the provisional sequestration order this week after an application by his former business partner, Anton van Druten, who claims in court papers that Griffin owes him R833 332.
Madame Zingara, known for dinner theatre which incorporates circus performances, was initially run from premises in Loop Street in the early 2000s, but after it burnt down in 2006, it operated from an antique “spiegelpaleis” (a mirrored tent) which gained popularity.
The production was transported across South Africa, generating a turn-over of R5 million a month, according to court papers.
At present, Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams, a burlesque dinner show, is housed in a moveable tent at the V&A Waterfront.
An affidavit Van Druten filed, says the pair were members of the now liquidated Madame Zingara cc, and respectively owned 20 percent and 40 percent in the close corporation.
In 2008, when Griffin wanted to take the production overseas, Van Druten agreed to sell his R3.25m stake in the business to Griffin.
Van Druten said Griffin honoured the first payment of R2m and two later cheque payments of about R208 333 each. However, the balance of R833 332 was never paid, he alleged.
Van Druten brought an application for a default judgment, which was granted by Western Cape High Court Judge Monde Samela on February 28 this year.
Griffin was ordered to pay the outstanding balance, plus interest.
But, said Van Druten, attempts to attach Griffin’s movable assets were unsuccessful because there was “no sign of life” at Griffin’s residential address, and when the sheriff of the court visited Madame Zingara’s head office he was unable to find any assets.
He was, instead, told that Griffin was merely an employee.
But Van Druten is not convinced.
He described Griffin’s claims of being in dire financial straits as “ludicrous”, because Griffin owned Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams, Bombay Bicycle Club, Sidewalk Café, Café Mozart, Café Paradiso and Don Pedro and two retailers, This is Not a Post Office and Uncle Shift’s. He added that Madame Zingara Entertainment, which was worth R30m and comprised 14 operations, six restaurants and 350 staff, saw between 1 500 and 2 000 customers a day.
Griffin is also reportedly set to rebuild the original Loop Street restaurant as a multi-storey Indian eatery.
Griffin has been ordered to return to court on October 15 to show cause why the provisional sequestration order should not be made final.