BUSHWICK, Brooklyn – Pizza lovers who bought tickets to the New York Pizza Festival will receive a full refund.
“After careful deliberation, and much back and forth about our customer’s best interest, we have agreed on refunding all tickets from the pizza and burger festivals,” organizers of the ill-fated festival announced on their Facebook page.
The two-day event was supposed to celebration of “dough, cheese, tasty sauces and delicious toppings,” but an attendee told PIX11 that hundreds of pizza lovers were greeted with tiny slices of cold pizza.
People paid between $36 and $69 dollars for an event advertised as an “eclectic tasting of the best pizza in NYC.” Brooklyn resident Connell Burke bought two VIP tickets for $150 for his girlfriend’s birthday. He was expecting an amazing pizza experience, but that wasn’t what he and his girlfriend got.
“[It was] very, very clearly a scam once we walked in,” Burke said. “It was just about six delivery boxes that they had and they were cutting them into tiny slices.”
The event was held in an empty lot. The organizer, who sold tickets through Eventbrite, also promoted a separate Facebook page that promoted a burger fest at the same location. Burke took pictures of empty burger trays.
The line, which snaked around the block to get in, was soon filled with angry ticket holders. A new Facebook page dedicated to “Pizza Festival Scam Victims” has popped up.
The food events are the brainchild of Ishmael Osekre. PIX11 reached out to him through Facebook, Twitter and email.
An automatic email reply was sent.
It said, “Untimely delivery of food delayed the fun experiences we all looked forward to this past weekend. A make-up tasting will be announced shortly. Thanks for your patience. Team Pizza Fest!”
Eventbrite apologized and said the event is under review.
In a statement, the company said it was “not involved in any aspect of the production of this event” and there is “a dedicated team in place to protect our community of attendees and organizers against misuse of our platform and take action when necessary. This may include issuing refunds to attendees on behalf of organizers, removing events, or in the most extreme cases: closing accounts and prohibiting access.”
Osekre also planned an African Food Fest in Brooklyn last year that left ticket holders underwhelmed and wanting their money back.
The New York Attorney General’s office said it’s opened an inquiry into the NYC Pizza Festival. According to spokesperson Doug Cohen, “We are concerned about the online complaints that we’ve seen.”