About 20 couples could lose deposits paid for their wedding receptions after a Brighton venue closed suddenly this week.
The Coach House staff have also lost their jobs with no notice and face not being paid redundancy, outstanding holiday or even wages after being texted by their boss on Wednesday with the news.
The Middle Street restaurant locked its doors on Wednesday and staff and customers say they have not received any replies to anxious messages they have sent the owners.
The text message said the company has ceased trading but so far, no details of any administrators have been given.
One bride, Abigail Wharne, posted on The Coach House’s Facebook page to say she and her fiance have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket.
She said: “Very disappointed and genuinely upset to receive the following email from Coach House, in regard to our wedding: ‘It is with deep regret and sadness to inform you that Coach House Brighton Ltd has become insolvent and has ceased trading and the restaurant is now closed. We can only offer you our sincerest apology for being unable to hold your event.’
“Does anyone have any further information? Our wedding is in three weeks so we’ve already paid thousands for food and drink. I really hope that they get back to us with more information.”
Another bride, Jessye Hodges who was due to marry fiance Ben with both the ceremony and reception there in July, said: “The first we knew about it was the posts on Facebook. We didn’t even receive the generic email from The Coach House!
“We are looking for a new venue now but have been absolutely devastated by the news.
“It’s hard when you have imagined your big day in one place, imagined getting married at the bar, organised the seating plan, the flowers, the DJ etc to have to visualise it all taking place elsewhere. Everything changes in a flash!
“And that’s not to mention the deposit that it looks like we have lost!! We are beyond angry!
“We have tried calling Big but of course no response. What he has done is unforgivable.”
One of the staff who worked at the venue said she was shocked when she started being contacted by colleagues who had been given the bad news by text – and then received the text message herself.
She said: “I was one of the last staff to get the message from my boss and before he sent it I heard from all my colleagues. It’s a very strange thing to do.
“We organised lots of weddings. We had a couple of functions this week, and the next wedding coming up on 25 May. I have friends from other restaurants and have managed to help find them another venue.
“We haven’t had any information from the management – the text is the only thing we have got.
“The boss has been saying for the last few years that things are bad and that’s why no one got any pay rises. I was working on minimum wage.
“Just before it closed, the accountant was asking me if I could get as many wedding deposits as possible. There were around 20 weddings with the deposits down for this year or the beginning of next year.
“We get paid weekly, and last week I got paid for just two and a half days. I’m not going to get anything now. “
She said most deposits were between £300 and £700.
The text sent to staff by owner Nik Beric said: “It is with deep regret and sadness to inform you that Coach House Brighton Ltd has become insolvent and has ceased trading and the restaurant is now closed.
“Spiralling costs and reduced business have been the main contributing factors resulting in the business operating at a loss.
“The debts the company has accrued is unsustainable and I cannot see a way forward with the current set up and so I have resigned as company director.
“This is a very difficult decision for me to make as I know that you have all worked hard and have done your best to help pull through.
“Thank you very much for your loyalty and service and I wish you all the best for the future.
“Can you please pass this message on to … as I no longer have access to the Coach House office.”
Mr Beric has been approached for comment.