The sudden closure this week of the Carlyle at the Palace, a catering facility at the Off Track Betting Corp. facility in Plainview, is forcing dozens of families who booked events there to scramble to find new venues.
Joseph Cairo, president of the Nassau Regional Off Track Betting Corp., said Friday that he had been assured in recent weeks by the licensee, East Meadow-based Carlyle Catering Management run by Steve Carl, that it would continue operating until year's end.
But Cairo said an email delivered at 3:52 p.m. Tuesday said that "all employees were advised that Carlyle at the Palace was out of business."
A spokeswoman for Richard Naidich, Carl's attorney, said "we have no comment at this time."
Robyn Clemens of East Northport said she and her husband already have paid $12,500 to have their daughter's bat mitzvah at Carlyle at the Palace in March. When she was contacted by an OTB representative on Thursday who informed her that the caterer was out of business, Clemens was stunned.
"I couldn't even comprehend what she was saying," Clemens said Friday. "I said, 'Is this a joke?' I was in such shock."
Clemens said her daughter was "extremely upset" and that they already have begun contacting other catering halls.
"It means we have to start all over again," she said.
Cairo said that OTB, which has sought to reach out to families, knows of 71 upcoming catered events scheduled at Carlyle at the Palace, though its list may not be complete. Thirty-one of those events are scheduled before year's end, he said.
In addition to operating the catering hall, Carlyle Catering also provided food services to patrons of the Race Palace, a part of the building on Round Swamp Road where bettors can watch live telecasts of thoroughbred and harness horse racing.
For now, Cairo said, a soda vending machine is being installed and bettors will be allowed to have food deliveries.
"We've made that exception since Thursday because we want to accommodate customers," he said.
Cairo said OTB also is seeking caterers who could operate the venue on an interim basis until year's end in advance of a formal bidding process to find a new vendor who would take over the catering and food service license Jan. 1. Carlyle Catering's contract with OTB ran through October 2019.
Concerns about the financial status of Carlyle Catering began circulating in recent months, Cairo said. In 2017, the company lost its bid to keep the license to operate Carlyle on the Green at Bethpage State Park.
Steven Squitiro, president and co-owner of The Standard Hospitality Group based in Babylon, said some families that had parties scheduled for Carlyle at the Palace had moved the events to his facilities at the North Shore Synagogue in Syosset and The Piermont catering hall in Bablyon.
Squitiro said the North Shore Synagogue catering hall had been run by Carlyle Catering and his company took over in early August.
"We've been moving a lot of parties over and honoring some of the deposits," he said. "I'm trying to help people in need without losing my shirt. It's a very difficult situation."
He said the events are predominantly bar and bat mitzvahs.