NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The economic impact of the pandemic is hitting the wedding industry hard. Banquet halls have not been able to host events in months. One North Haven facility has now closed for good, but the question is, will brides get their deposit money back?
The day the state shut everything down, Fantasia had a big party booked. Owner Joe Floriano said they had to refund $18,000 that day, and he and his family have not made money since. He did not want to talk on camera, but he says with no income, and no end in sight, he had no choice but to close.
He announced the closing on the Fantasia Facebook page last week, but that did not sit well with bride-to-be Sissy Wilson.
“To be told multiple times that they had no intention of closing and then finding out via Facebook, it’s just kind of a slap in the face because why would you book our wedding if that was the case?” Wilson explained.
Wilson booked her wedding at Fantasia for December 2021 and put down a $1,500 deposit last June amid rumors that they were closing. But after being reassured that that wasn’t happening – even amid the pandemic – Wilson said she moved forward with her wedding plans. Wilson said she has since booked her wedding at a new venue.
“I think at this point, we’re just entitled to the deposit back obviously,” she said. “We looked over our contract; there’s nowhere that it says that it’s non-refundable.”
Except, owner Floriano says he and his family have spent all their money trying to keep the lights on and employees paid for the past 3 months. The State Department of Consumer Protection said anyone affected by the closure sure file a complaint.
Even before the pandemic, there had been a long term plan to sell the hall and build apartments on the property. The town even rezoned it.
“It’s not exactly something I think we need, but it’s not something that we can control,” said North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda. “The owners of the property are going to make the decision to sell it out.”
Floriano says he simply does not have any money right now. Once the property is sold, he hopes to be able to refund everyone’s deposits.