Shock liquidation: Queensland restaurateur loses everything

A WELL-regarded Cairns restaurateur is picking up the pieces after one of the city's newest venues was placed in liquidation less than 18 months after opening.

AquaLuna Restaurant owner Gordon Kean told the Cairns Post last night he had "lost everything".

"But at the end of the day I don't think the food was good enough and the service was good enough," he said.

Gordon Kean
Gordon Kean

"I didn't predict how difficult it was in town when you're competing against all the other restaurants.

"As well as the cost of food ... and operating a restaurant."

Mr Kean co-owned L'Unico Trattoria Italiano at Trinity Beach for 25 years, but he sold his stake in 2017 for what he had previously called a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and signed a 20-year lease with Cairns Aquarium.

"It was a big risk, it was a big concern," he said.

"I did (know that).

"You fall in love with your own idea sometimes.

"It's very different being on the beach and dealing with locals than being in town.

"It's very competitive in town and you have to be really good," Mr Kean said.

AquaLuna, which opened in September 2017, was initially a joint venture between Mr Kean and fellow restaurant owners Jarrod Donkin and Matt Turner.

Jarrod Donkin and Gordon Kean, proprietors of AquaLuna Restaurant, and Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston, owners and co-founders of the Cairns Aquarium.
Jarrod Donkin and Gordon Kean, proprietors of AquaLuna Restaurant, and Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston, owners and co-founders of the Cairns Aquarium.

But Mr Kean said they had "got out early" and he had been running the restaurant on his own for the last nine months.

"It was all too much really. Three partners just wasn't sustainable financially," he said.

AquaLuna was placed in liquidation on Monday.

Cairns Aquarium posted on social media that the restaurant was temporarily closed for renovations.

Mr Kean said it had been a "horrible experience".

But he spoke highly of the staff at Cairns Aquarium.

"The Cairns Aquarium have been fantastic to me.

"Great people to work with.

"I had all the support in the world.

"But I've had great staff that have really supported me through it.

"They've tried the best they could.

"I still love hospitality, I still love people. It's just circumstances."