When we first began reporting on the demise of Water's Edge, a Long Island City restaurant and wedding venue high on ambiance but short on trustworthy ownership, we likened it to the plight of the abruptly defunct reBar. Two months later, though, this comparison has proven inaccurate. ReBar employees came to work one day to find the restaurant locked, and dozens of couples were hit with the sudden and inexorable bomb that their wedding plans were toast, that the thousands they'd made in down payments would not be returned. It was a traumatic hit, but at least it was concise.
The couples scheduled to be married at Water's Edge, though, have been denied the solace of even that certainty. Owner Harendra Singh was arrested in September on a litany of unseemly fraud charges, though it's conceivable that the restaurant could have continued to function during his stint on house arrest. Unfortunately, that's not how it went down. According to several of those impacted, Singh had also failed to pay many of his staff and food purveyors, leading them to quit en masse and for food to cease materializing. Still, despite all evidence to the contrary, Singh's attorney insisted that everything was fine, that "every wedding and christening and whatever" would go off without a hitch.
On Friday, a manager told Newsday that the place was closed for good. "Everybody is owed money," he said. "Purveyors are owed money, and employees are owed money. And he [Singh] ain't paying."
That same day, a couple arrived at the venue in preparation for their wedding that weekend, an event for which they had paid $10,500. They were greeted with a "closed" sign. Having seen Gothamist's past coverage, the couple, Katherine Kirschner and her fiance Robert Bradley, had already secured another venue, but their parents' down payment was lost to the ether.
"My parents deserve a happy healthy retirement and to know what they've gone through to help us have a reception at another venue, it's just wrong," Kirschner told ABC7.
But just when it seemed as though there could not possibly be room for any more vacillation, an unnamed manager hit DNAinfo with this gem: The restaurant, he said, is simply closed for renovations! It will reopen Friday night under new management, with the intention of bringing "a positive change" to the moribund space.
"There's been a lot of controversial, negative media presence," the alleged manager told the news site. "We're trying to bring back the iconic establishment." This week's closure, the manager said, was simply due to minor renovations, like new flooring, though a battery of negative Yelp reviews were more focused on lack of food and the stench of un-removed trash than grubby carpeting. The issue of this weekend's cancelled wedding apparently did not come up.
Reached by phone, an employee at Water's Edge told us the restaurant would be open Friday, before abruptly hanging up.
Singh, who still owns the restaurant, faces eviction from the space thanks to a 2014 audit that found rent payments to have been improperly calculated since 2009. Nevermind that, though. The venue will be taking reservations for holiday parties, and hosting events for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and whatever. It will also continue accepting bookings for weddings.
"We are fully available," the manager reportedly said. "I have full confidence in my team."