People who paid thousands of dollars for events at uptown waterfront restaurant La Marina are now scrambling to get their deposits back after the troubled party spot filed for bankruptcy.
La Marina — which has had a scandalous few years — is more than $600,000 in debt, a good chunk of which is owed to these customers, the Post reports. The restaurant had collected more than $116,000 in deposits from a dozen people, including three Manhattan couples planning weddings there and a mom that reserved the space for her daughter’s bat mitzvah.
The mom put down $5,493, while others like city council aide Erik Cuello, who paid $12,000 for his wedding spot, have even more on the line. Deposits as high as $22,000 were made.
The restaurant claims it’s going to restructure and reopen in May, co-owner Josh Rosen tells the Post. He says people that booked private events will be allowed “out of their contracts,” although he didn’t specify whether or not that means their money will be returned.
Update: Co-owner Jerald Tenenbaum says the restaurant will reopen with “an entirely new concept, management, and method of operation.” He says remaining event contracts will be honored, and those whose events were already impacted will be reimbursed through the bankruptcy process.
The bankruptcy filing should come as no surprise; the restaurant has been shrouded in legal and financial controversy for years. In 2016, co-owner Fernando Mateo was involved in a City Hall corruption scandal, though an investigation led to no charges. Last year, the party spot was hit with a multi-agency raid that temporarily shut it down, which later led to the arrest of a bar manager for selling illegal drugs on the premises. Both Rosen and Tenenbaum say that Mateo is no longer involved in the business.
In December, the State Liquor Authority began taking measures to permanently remove the venue’s license, saying La Marina posed a risk to its employees and the surrounding neighborhood. The restaurant shot back with a $2 million lawsuit earlier this year.
La Marina opened in 2012 on city-owned land under a deal with the parks department, in which it’d operate seasonally from Memorial Day to September. The restaurant reportedly owes $221,676 in back rent to the department.