A Central Virginia caterer who took a Richmond couple's money, promising to deliver food for their wedding, never showed. Now, another couple - this one from Newport News - says the same thing just happened to them, weeks after the first case.
Despite being a no-show for both weddings, the caterer has not returned either couple's money, and he still appears to be taking clients.
Robert and Catina Jones spoke with NBC12 nearly a week after their wedding, furious they were out a thousand bucks. A few weeks later, newlyweds David and Xenlee Zink of Newport News say they lost even more.
It was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives for the Richmond couple. Photos capture the meaningful memories on the happiest day of their lives.
"It was a dream come true. It really was. The man of my dreams,” Catina Wright-Jones said.
Highlighting the big day meant coming up with the perfect menu. So she called on Richmond executive chef, Frank Crump.
Crump is associated with several Richmond Restaurants - including GFC Catering, where he is listed as the chef and owner.
"We were having his famous crab cakes, salmon, broccoli amandine, red potatoes and rolls...He had sent me text messages. ‘Oh, I'm honored to do your wedding. I can't wait to be there,'" she said.
Only problem - Crump never showed up.
"I didn't know what we were going to do," Wright-Jones added.
Just hours before the big moment, her then fiancé raced to Crump's business, but he wasn't there.
With no time to wait, he placed a rush order with a different business, who agreed to save the day.
Here's the problem. The couple paid Crump two times: a deposit and a final balance. Both checks cashed, and one cashed a day before the wedding...but they never put their deal in writing.
"It’s a wedding day. It’s big time. We’re going to have a lot of fun, but don't get yourself caught up in a bind," said Barry Moore of the Better Business Bureau.
He hears sad scenarios like this one all of the time.
"Get it in writing. If you do handshakes, that sounds good, but a lot of times miscommunication happens, and you think you paid for something or you're getting something and the caterer said ‘no, wait a minute. That's not what I said,'" Moore adds.
The Joneses say they made contact with the caterer after the wedding.
"What reason did he give?” NBC12 asked.
“No reason. At that point, we didn't want a reason. We just wanted our refund back," Robert Jones said.
They even agreed on a meeting spot, but they say Crump was a no-show again.
"I have done quite a few jobs for Mrs. Wright. I wasn’t able to make it. I will refund her money," Crump said in a statement to NBC12.
Weeks later, the Richmond couple has still not heard from Crump, but NBC12 heard from another couple, who say Crump did the same thing to them.
"We wanted to make the event special for all of our friends and family," said David Zink.
David and Xenlee Zink of Newport News also hired Crump for their big day.
"I attended a wedding that he did. I was in the wedding that he did. [The food] was great. That's why we elected to have him in our wedding. It seemed like it was meant to be," said Xenlee Zink.
The Zinks signed a contract with Crump, outlining the $2,200 deal. They paid him a deposit, and then a final balance.
"When he received the payment for $1,568, he called me that day and said 'hey, I got your check, just wanted to let you know' and I thought that was so courteous of him to do that," said Xenlee Zink.
Over a series of text messages, the couple says Crump kept saying he was so excited to cater their special day. After months of communicating, June 23 finally arrived.
"He had agreed with coordinators to arrive at noon," said Xenlee Zink.
Noon came. Crump didn't.
"By one o'clock, we knew there were red flags," said Xenlee Zink. "He texted my bridesmaid he was having car trouble, and she said 'where are you, my husband will come get you.' And I guess at that point, she called his bluff, and he went silent after that."
"It's not just food, we didn't have bottled water there for the guests. No food, no soda, no cups, no nothing," said David Zink.
So they had to dish out money again, getting a nearby restaurant to step in on the very day they tied the knot.
"If you got our money, why keep stringing us along to our wedding day, 12 to one o'clock?" said David Zink.
Days after the wedding, the couple says Crump sent this email: "Nothing I can say will remedy this. I will be getting a cashier's check today and return your money."
The same promise made to the Jones - that has not been kept.
After NBC12 learned about the most recent issue, our intern Sarah called Crump, asking if he was still taking on new clients. He said yes and asked when the big day would be.
"He knew he wasn't coming. He did it on purpose," said David Zink.
Crump sent NBC12 an email, saying he reached out to the latest couple for their address - presumably to return their money. It's been nearly two weeks, and the couple says they haven't gotten a refund.
It's been about five weeks, and the first couple hasn't either.
The Zinks say they have reached out to local police.
The BBB offers several tips for wedding contracts. Get multiple references before hiring anyone to perform services for your wedding, and try to use a credit card - that may come with some consumer protections.
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