Banker helps caterers pay back brides and grooms

Seven On Your Side
July 12, 2013 8:21:10 PM PDT
It was a lose-lose situation, a wedding venue was washed away by Sandy, leaving dozens of couples counting on a beach wedding in the lurch.

Both couples had booked summer wedding at Merri-Makers on Water's Edge in Sea Bright, which was destroyed by the Superstorm in October. Ever since they've been trying to get their deposits back.

"Every two weeks he would say, 'You'll get your money in two weeks' and the fact of that matter is it been seven months later," said Jennie Garcia, a bride.

"There was no response, no feedback, it was just horrible," said Doreen Haegele, a bride.

Eyewitness News profiled the problem on 7 On Your Side last month, showing the obviously frustrated catering hall owner.

"Well what's your explanation, they've been waiting half a year for this money," said Nina Pineda, of 7 On Your Side.

"I really don't want to talk to you," said Andrew Bott, owner of Merri-Makers.

Andy Bott's refused our help to go after his insurance company, which has only paid a fraction of his business interruption claim.

But luckily, one man happened to be watching Channel 7 and saw their predicament.

"You spurred me to do something, you did, you spurred me to do something," said Peter Schoberl, of First Community Bank.

Peter Schoberl isn't just the President of Community First Bank based in Somerset, he's a personal friend and Merri-Makers' business banker.

"I called the boys and said, 'What going on?' and they both said 'We're trying to do this on our own, $100,000 is a little bit of money', and I said, 'Look we're going to lend you the money, you'll pay off all the people you need to pay off,'" Schoberl said.

"Yeah we're very lucky. You aired the story about the problems and my bankers saw the story and called me the next day," said Rick Bott, Merri-Makers owner.

As soon as the Bott brothers got their bridge loan from Community First , they paid all 60 brides and grooms in full.

"That is awesome for somebody to do that and help all these other people," Carmen Campisi said.

Jennie and Carmen picked up the last check Merri-Makers owed.

"It's all thank to you guys," Campisi said.

With their banker's help, the Botts are back in business offering Jersey Shore beach weddings at the Berkeley Cartaret Hotel in Asbury Park.

"We're excited about starting the next 20 years!" Bott said.