Eight couples have canceled their wedding receptions at the Thatched Cottage after the owner of the nearly century-old Centerport catering hall announced it had filed for bankruptcy protection.
Ralph Colamussi filed for Chapter 11 on Jan. 2, citing costs associated with damage from Tropical Storm Irene and superstorm Sandy. Colamussi has said his business will stay open while his debt is reorganized and has assured his clients that scheduled events will take place.
But engaged couple Bryan Appell and Marialaina Muller of Lindenhurst decided not to take chances. They had booked the venue for Aug. 22 and sent out their save-the-date announcements. But after reading about the bankruptcy, they decided to cancel this week and demand a refund of their $5,000 deposit.
"We don't want them to fail . . . we just want our deposit back," said Muller, 28.
Huntington attorney Avrum Rosen, who represents Colamussi, said Thursday there have been eight cancellations of 157 booked events. He said anyone who cancels will receive a "proof of claim" form that they need to fill out and file with the court.
Rosen said claims for deposits will be included in the other debts, but won't be the first paid back. The highest priority debts include money owed to banks and the state, he said.
Clients can submit priority claims for up to $2,600 for their deposits, and the remainder in unsecured claims, he said.
Appell, 31, said he spoke with Rosen and was given the impression that the couple would not get back money. He said he plans to look into filing a claim.
Rosen said the Thatched Cottage is expected to file a reorganization plan in coming weeks and that it typically takes three to six months to be approved.
The East Main Street business opened in 1915 as a restaurant. Colamussi purchased it 26 years ago, running it as a restaurant and catering facility before closing the restaurant. The Thatched Cottage Caterers at the Bay has hosted numerous weddings, some of Long Island's first same-sex proms, many bar and bat mitzvahs, and political and civic events.
Colamussi said the Thatched Cottage flooded during both Irene and Sandy, sustaining damage to floors, walls, roof, carpeting, and electrical, heating and air-conditioning systems.
Colamussi borrowed money to complete repairs after both storms, totaling about $3 million.
Colamussi also owes about $630,000 in state sales tax, Rosen has said.