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Massapequa Catering Hall Suddenly Shutters

Manor East evicted as customers scramble for new venues

After Massapequa catering hall Manor East closed suddenly following an unexpected eviction last week, New York Assemblyman Joseph Saladino and Butch Yamali of the Long Island Caterers Association came together to offer assistance to those whose weddings, proms and other events were upended.

“We’re here to protect the victims, protect our community and do everything possible to ensure that they don’t lose their big day,” said Saladino, who was joined by owners of the catering hall outside his Massapequa office.

Movers were seen hauling furniture and other items from the catering hall at 201 Jerusalem Ave. on June 13 after several bankruptcy appeals were denied, according to an attorney for bank lenders.

The attorney, who chose not to be named, said Manor East owners defaulted on a large loan in November 2008 and “have not paid a dime in taxes or mortgage since.”

“The owner knew for about four years that he was in trouble and he has known since March that he was getting evicted,” the attorney said. “He continued to book parties and I foresee an investigation by the Nassau County District Attorneys office.”

Richard Bivona, who said he is a representative of Manor East, a catering hall in operation for close to 40 years, said the legal wrangling is ongoing but he expects to be back in business soon.

“I’m not a lawyer. The legalities are going to be clear,” Bivona said. “We fully expect to get the Manor East back. The immediate concerns are my customers.”

A message on Manor East’s website states “Manor East is doing everything in its power to fulfill our customers’ events by affiliating with the LI Hospitality Group to find our customers venues.”

But some customers could not wait for owners and lawyers to hash out the details, and those left scrabbling most frantically were angry.

Lisa Schwab, who had helped plan a sixth-grade dance for Newbridge Road School at Manor East, received an anonymous call hours before the dance was set to commence that the Sheriff’s Department was overseeing the shuttering of the hall.

“If I didn’t get that call, we would have shown up to a closed building,” said Schwab, whose daughter Danielle was set to attend the dance. “We were just there the Friday before to pay the balance. There is no doubt in my mind that the owners knew this was going on.”

Schwab, school officials and other parents scrambled to move the dance to a different location. As luck would have it, Schwab’s husband, Mark, belongs to a fraternity that offered its waterfront property on Beach Street in Bellmore for the party.

While Manor East did deliver food to the event, Schwab said it was not worth the $1,500 paid to the catering hall.

“They tried to accommodate us, but how do you let us plan this party while this is going on?” she said. “I don’t understand how they sleep at night.”

The caterers’ association president, Butch Yamali, has pledged to help stranded event hosts find alternative locations.

“The stresses involved in planning a party are hard enough without worrying if the caterer is going to shut down,” said Yamali, who owns Coral House in Baldwin, among other venues. “This is terrible and we’re working with people to try to help them.”

A hotline has been set up at 516-462-9001 by the Long Island Caterers Association to help parties find a new venue.