Tasty Buds in Nambour's Currie Street.
Tasty Buds in Nambour's Currie Street. John McCutcheon

Voice of 'ghost' restaurants hides behind private network

A MYSTERIOUS spokesperson for two Coast 'ghost' restaurants caught up in a visa fraud investigation has claimed their company has run a legitimate business in the past.

The spokesperson has ignored requests from the Sunshine Coast Daily to provide their name or phone number and efforts to track their location via their email's Internet Protocol (IP) addresses have shown them coming from Bangladesh, Indonesia and the United States.

It's believed the company is using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which hides the location of internet users by making it appear as though they are logging on from a different location.

Late last week, it was confirmed by the Department of Home Affairs that MJ Food Venture was under investigation following allegations of visa fraud.

 

Tandoori Spice in Nambour's Currie Street.
Tandoori Spice in Nambour's Currie Street. John McCutcheon

The company previously owned two Currie St, Nambour restaurants, Curry King (now Tandori Spice) and Tasty Buds, but it's understood these have both changed hands.

Tasty Buds is now for sale on Gumtree for $30,000.

According to the Sunshine Coast Council, neither of these restaurants ever held a food licence and locals claim they never saw the stores open.

Despite this, they appear to be ready for business with tables, cutlery and glasses set out and drinks in the fridge.

 

Potpourri and Tandoori Spice in Nambour's Currie Street.
Potpourri and Tandoori Spice in Nambour's Currie Street. John McCutcheon

The company's spokesperson said the Nambour restaurants never opened due to issues installing a grease trap, but two other stores owned by the company in Brisbane have never opened either.

The spokesperson claimed the now-closed Ashoka Exotic Curries restaurant in Brisbane's western suburbs, had been running for two years before its lease expired, but documents provided to the Daily show this is incorrect.

A lease agreement, signed by the company's former director, was intended to run from September 1, 2015 to August 8, 2018.

 

Tasty Buds in Nambour's Currie Street.
Tasty Buds in Nambour's Currie Street. John McCutcheon

Payment records from the company's time leasing the store show the bond was paid upfront, but the September to December, 2015 rent wasn't fully paid until February the next year.

Invoices kept rolling in for the company until August, 2016, but the only rent paid that year was for January.

The building's owner previously said the company was locked out of the store after about "three to six months" because rent hadn't been paid and he never saw the store open.

Jacaranda Restaurant in Highfields, north of Toowoomba, also never opened after the company took them over, according to nearby store owners.

It's understood the leases for Tasty Buds and Curry King were terminated last September due to rent arrears.



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