WEST ORANGE, N.J. — The Atrium Country Club on Eagle Rock Road in West Orange, New Jersey is closed for good — and couples who booked weddings and already paid the venue are in a panic.
The doors were chained shut on Monday.
Bride-to-be Danielle Mellilo, 27, happened to drop by on Tuesday to pick something up.
“To just walk up there and see that a place that we're supposed to be getting married at in three months all chained up, it was just heartbreaking," she said.
Mellilo and her fiancé Ryan Decker, 26, became engaged in December of 2015. From the beginning, Mellilo said she had her heart set on getting married at The Atrium.
But that dream has been shattered. The couple received a letter Friday officially confirming the venue's closure.
"They lied to us. They stole our money," Mellilo said.
The letter made no mention of the couple's $10,000 deposit.
Bankruptcy attorney Donald V. Biase told PIX11 that any deposits made prior to his involvement in March of 2017 are not returnable because the venue owners spent that cash on operations. Any deposits made after that time will be spent at other venues to pay for the displaced events.
"We’ve arranged for another catering business to perform the weddings and parties of the folks that have a contract or have a party booked with The Atrium," stated Biase.
Mellilo said she previously received a couple letters in the mail mentioning bankruptcy. But when she called the venue, she says they assuaged her concerns by stating a major distributor was going bankrupt and that her wedding could go on as planned.
"We trusted them," Mellilo said. "They made us think everything was OK, and everything was not OK at all."
Mellilo and Decker managed to book their wedding at another venue for the same date they planned to marry.
Joseph and Albert Nazarian are listed as The Atrium's owners.
PIX11 called the venue's listed number to get more information, but calls are being forwarded to another company that said they have no affiliation with the defunct establishment.