DIGGING DEEPER: Local event center closes unexpectedly, leaves some customers out thousands of dollars

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 11:42 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - A local event center closed its doors unexpectedly and left several customers and employees out thousands of dollars.

Empyrean Events and Catering opened up a new venue downtown called the Elysean this year. In the beginning of November the company announced its closing out of the blue. The owner, Renee Miner sent emails explaining the closing to some employees and customers.

One customer, Claire Scheible, found the Elysean and fell in love with as soon as she and her mother Trisha toured the venue.

“Just the way they sold us on it was amazing I mean it sounded like a dream come true it really really did,” Claire said.

“This venue just opened in June and it was beautiful, we’ve been following them on instagram, everything was beautiful, exactly what Claire wanted exactly what we could envision for her wedding day,” Trisha said.

The Scheible’s immediately put down their $4,000 deposit for the space and soon they started hearing whispers that not all was well.

“We started hearing that there might be some situations going on at the end of October maybe about the third week of October. So we reached out we sent emails, we sent phone calls and they came unanswered and so that was a little alarming to us,” Trisha said.

Trisha says Miner finally contacted Claire. She showed ABC 21′s Arielle Cadet the emails from the company telling her not to worry and that everything was going according to plan, but then a couple days later she got the shocking news.

“Not even two or three days later we got an email from Renee Miner the owner of Empyrean Events saying that she was closing the doors and it was done,” Claire said.

Claire was in shambles when she read the email, and didn’t know if she would find another venue.

“And then all of sudden we were out not only $4,000 which was the deposit but we were also out a venue and everything that came along with Empyrean,” Claire said.

They’re not the only ones. ABC 21 has received multiple calls and emails from customers and employees that had the exact same thing happen to them. One of those employees was Kat Rogers.

“I had gotten the email and my initial reaction was well I just started working here this is very strange,” Rogers said.

Rogers started working at Elysean in September and says she never saw the person who hired her again.

“I was really confused because it was only like a week or two that I got hired by him so I kind of asked what happened and it sounded like a chaotic thing that happened,” Rogers said.

Rogers says the owners claimed someone else would take over and everything would be okay. That didn’t happen. When Rogers tried to cash the last check, it bounced.

“I was really kind of confused. I know another co-worker that I work with I luckily added on Facebook and she said the same thing happened to her and when she tried to reach out to Renee she said she’d fix it and then never emailed her back,” Rogers said.

ABC 21 reached out to Miner multiple times but never heard back. Rogers and the Scheible’s say they’re disappointed she would leave so many people high and dry.

“Ok everyone makes mistakes, own up to your mistakes, take responsibility and try to help these people try to find a plan B. Just to walk away and say ‘I took your money, too bad for you’, is just horrifying,” Trisha said.

“I have a co-worker shes a single mom with two kids so she was really relying on that just for a little Christmas money for her kids and I think that’s also really heartbreaking and kind of selfish on Renee’s part,” Rogers said.

Rogers works as a bartender in Decatur now and Claire’s still going forward with her wedding on her original date. She found a new venue that she loves and she has advice for those brides who still may be feeling stuck.

“Feel those feelings, that anger, but then once you do realize the venue is not everything its who you’re with is whats the most important thing,” Claire said.

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