BUSHWICK, Brooklyn — Hundreds of pizza lovers were furious after they bought tickets to the New York City Pizza Festival, expecting delicious, piping-hot pizza from a variety of vendors, and were greeted by something incredibly disappointing at the event held Saturday in Bushwick.
Brooklyn resident Connell Burke bought two VIP tickets for $150 for his girlfriend’s birthday. He was expecting an amazing pizza experience, but that wasn't what he and his girlfriend got.
"[It was] very, very clearly a scam once we walked in," Burke said.
Burke showed PIX11 pictures of tiny slices of cold pizza. The celebration was billed as “a daylong celebration of the dough, cheese, tasty sauces and delicious toppings.”
“It was just about six delivery boxes that they had and they were cutting them into tiny slices," Burke said.
The event was held in an empty lot. The organizer, who sold tickets through Eventbrite, also promoted a separate Facebook page that promoted a burger fest at the same location. Burke took pictures of empty burger trays.
The line, which snaked around the block to get in, was soon filled with angry ticket holders. A new Facebook page dedicated to “Pizza Festival Scam Victims” has popped up.
The food events are the brainchild of Ishmael Osekre. PIX11 reached out to him through Facebook, Twitter and email.
An automatic email reply was sent.
It said, “Untimely delivery of food delayed the fun experiences we all looked forward to this past weekend. A make-up tasting will be announced shortly. Thanks for your patience. Team Pizza Fest!”
Attendees said they just want their money back.
Eventbrite apologized and said the event is under review.
In a statement, the company said it was "not involved in any aspect of the production of this event" and there is “a dedicated team in place to protect our community of attendees and organizers against misuse of our platform and take action when necessary. This may include issuing refunds to attendees on behalf of organizers, removing events, or in the most extreme cases: closing accounts and prohibiting access.”
Osekre also planned an African Food Fest in Brooklyn last year that left ticket holders underwhelmed and wanting their money back.
The New York Attorney General’s office said it’s opened an inquiry into the NYC Pizza Festival. According to spokesperson Doug Cohen, “We are concerned about the online complaints that we’ve seen.”
Anyone who wants to submit a complaint about the event can do so here.