Brides who planned to marry at a beachfront wedding venue on Long Island abruptly learned the club was closing in mid-April, and are angry that the owner, who they say owes them tens of thousands of dollars, appears to be opening a new restaurant.
Barbara Lewis, the mother of a bride who had booked her wedding at the Waterview Club in Bayville, is still stunned at how suddenly the business closed, causing her to lose $19,000.
"We went to a tasting the Friday before he was shut down," said Lewis. "Everything seemed to be fine."
Tammy Pagnillo, a bride who had a wedding booked at the Waterview Club, said she lost $16,500 and that its owner, Paul Burnup, claimed he can't afford to pay back what he owes.
Burnup's attorneys said he tried to find another caterer to take over the venue but didn't succeed because of a landlord dispute. The attorneys said they are working with the Nassau County District Attorney's office to give the brides their money back and have already paid back some couples.
The district attorney's office would not confirm if it is working with Burnup on a plan to repay the brides but said it is investigating to see if any criminality occurred.
The brides, meanwhile, are shocked to learn Burnup appears to be planning to open a new restaurant on the other side of Long Island, in Freeport.
"I can't believe it," said Pagnillo. "If this guy claims he has no money and he can't pay us back, how does he have enough money to open a new place?"
Burnup's attorneys say no money from the Waterview Club went to the new venture.
A man who claimed to be the co-owner of the new restaurant, WET Waterfront Dining Lounge, told NBC 4 New York that Burnup was only its manager, but a permit filed with the county health department lists him as its president.
Burnup declined direct requests for comment, saying "it's a legal issue that's being taken care of in the courts."