PORTLAND, Ore. – Sarah Mayer and her fiancé Michael booked their wedding caterer a year in advance.
“We did a lot of research before we hired them,” Mayer said.
The couple put down a $4,600 deposit for catering and other services for their 150 invited guests. “Tables, chairs, linens, the bar, dance floor, DJ table, cake table,” she said.
That’s money the couple will likely never get back.
Late last month, when Mayer contacted Phresh Organic Catering to finalize plans, she never heard back.
“I didn’t hear anything. No email. I started calling, and about a week ago I called and their mailbox was full, which was concerning.”
She went to the business in Southeast Portland to find an empty building and a locked door.
The company’s website posted a statement from the owner, saying “it is with deep regret that I am writing to inform you that unfortunately after seven years of business, and due to circumstances beyond my control, Phresh Organic Catering had to close unexpectedly. It has been a joy and privilege to know and work with such wonderful individuals.”
Mayer is not alone. None of Phresh Organic’s clients can get any answers, let alone their money back.
KATU tried to contact the owner, Robert Leon, but there was no answer at his home Sunday.
However, we did hear from the former director of catering who was laid off out of the blue on Jan. 23.
“I wish I had known. I wish he had given me an indicator because I was actively selling up until the morning he let me go,” said Shelley Lomax. “I processed $8,000 in deposits in the two days leading up to me being laid off.”
Lomax said the company booked two to four weddings every weekend this summer, including Sarah Mayer’s.
Now, Mayer is out more than $4,600 in cash, and starting over on her wedding.
"I really just want our deposit back. What we've paid them," Mayer said. “I have a wedding to plan. Again.”
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