Better Call Behnken: Couples left with questions after popular Ybor City wedding venue closes doors

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Thirteen couples have turned to 8 On Your Side after they were jilted by their wedding venue. Combined, they forked over more than $100,000 and were left in a panic when 1930 Grande Room in Ybor City abruptly shut down.

No one who has contacted News Channel 8 has received a promise of a refund, or any explanation at all.

Several families say they are turning to the Tampa Police Department because they question whether the business collected their money, even after it was clear they could not provide the services. Investigators with the police department are currently reviewing the situation.

One of the upset brides is Lauren Gibbons, who is marrying her partner Nicole Sager.

“We looked at a couple of places but they were more LGTB friendly than a lot of places and we liked the location and the look of it that it would go with our theme and our wedding,” Gibbons said.

Some couples have paid as much as $16,000 and now have upcoming wedding dates and no venue. One couple who contacted 8 On Your Side was set to have their wedding in just two weeks.

The voicemail box at 1930 Grande Room is full, and brides say emails and texts to the owners are not returned.

Calls from 8 On Your Side have also not been returned.

That leaves brides-to-be, like Aimee Dufresne, devastated. Her wedding is set for December 9, and was supposed to happen at the Grande on 7th Avenue in Ybor City. She says communication with the owners was cut off in April, just after her mother made a second payment, for a total of more than $8,000.

“I’m that girl who has dreamt about the wedding, the fairy tale wedding her entire life.,” Dufresne said.

8 On Your Side found the owners, Jennifer and Anthony Sanschagrin, have several business affiliations and one of those filed for bankruptcy nearly a year ago.

Meanwhile, other venues have called 8 On Your Side to offer help, and some are offering discounts. Here are some of those venues. Couples are encouraged to do their research and determine whether any of these venues are right for them.

  • Carrollwood Country Club:
    • Contact Cassie Thomas, Catering Sales Director: 813-961-1381 ext. 144
  • George M. Steinbrenner Field:
    • Contact Sara Meadows: 813-673-3081
  • Saltblock Hospitality
    • Contact Chelsea Hunter: 877-793-7526
  • Columbia Restaurant
    • Contact: 813-248-4961
  • Bakers Ranch
    • Contact Tiffany Patrick: 941-776-1460
  • Florida Aquarium
    • Email sales@flaquarium.com or call 813-273-4000 x 4288
  • The Red Barn at Bushnell
    • Contact Mary Kay Etheridge: 352-467-0003
  • Pebble Creek
    • Contact Kathy Warren: 813-973-3870, ext. 232 or 813-334-7126
  • Barrington Hill Farm, Dade City
    • Email wedbarringtonhill@hotmail.com or call 352-388-1516
  • The Garden Ballroom
    • Contact: 863-293-5565
  • Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
    • Contact: Andrea Alava: 813-935-8552 ext. 212 or  andrea.alava@lowryparkzoo.org

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