JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A St. Augustine restaurant and event space is abruptly closing its doors this week.
Culinary Outfitters made the announcement on its Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon.
Several brides with upcoming weddings who had deposits with the venue reached out to us after making repeated attempts to contact the owners — with no luck.
Bride-to-be Rachel Dungan is frustrated, along with many others.
“Our whole world got shattered based on an Instagram post. No phone call, no notification,” she said.
Her wedding venue, Culinary Outfitters, announced Wednesday afternoon that it “officially closed the doors,” saying in part, “It is challenging enough to open a restaurant, let alone during a pandemic.”
She found out about the news on its Instagram page, which has since been deleted.
“Once I found out on Instagram, I reached out to the company itself. The phone number just rings. No voicemails and nobody answers no matter what extension you press. I was able to make contact with their event coordinator, who directed me to their owner. I emailed, posted on Instagram, made all kinds of (attempts) trying to make contact and heard nothing,” said Dungan.
Action News Jax tried too. We called the restaurant, but the line was busy. We called the owner, Chase Pritchard, but his voicemail was full. We even texted him but got no response. We knocked on his door, too, and received no answer.
At the time we did this interview with Dungan, it had been more than 24 hours since the venue posted the closing, and she hadn’t heard a thing.
Dungan put down a deposit to secure the venue back in July.
“A very large one. I put down about $2,700,” Dungan said.
It turns out she wasn’t the only one. We received six contracts from other brides, who were all out more than a thousand dollars too.
One bride just booked her event with the company two weeks ago.
We are not showing those contracts for privacy reasons.
We also confirmed Culinary Outfitters was a vendor at the Premier Bride Expo in World Golf Village on Sept. 12.
Dungan said, “There are girls getting married in the next four weeks, five weeks, and my heart just goes out to them.”
After repeated attempts from us and other brides to get in contact with the owner, Dungan received this email from Pritchard just before 7 p.m. Thursday.
It reads in part: “We are not ignoring calls, we just have a lot on our plate. We are working with several venues for the option of detouring your event to another venue. We will also respect your choice of a refund.”
Dungan wishes it was handled differently and said she’s going to make sure every other bride is given the same option.
“All of us are really upset and just really frustrated,” she said.
According to Dungan, the owner said he will be reaching out to all the brides by Sunday. We will be sure to follow up with her to see if the owner follows through.
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