(Photo by Toque Catering via Facebook)

A highly touted and award-winning catering company on Vancouver Island has left many clients in the dark—and out thousands of dollars. 

Toque Catering, a prominent wedding and event caterer on Vancouver Island is filing for bankruptcy following numerous complaints from clients.

During the months leading up to this announcement, dozens of clients have reported the theft of their deposits. 

By recommendation, Victoria couple Georgia King and Ben Smith booked Toque Catering In 2021 to cater their wedding.

“They were highly recommended by people who previously worked with them and those who received their services. We booked and gave them a deposit of $3,950,” said King.

While at work on January 15th, King received an email from her wedding planner informing her of the gut-wrenching news that the owners of Toque were shutting down and refusing to respond to clients that had paid thousands of dollars in deposits. 

“I heard somebody’s 60th birthday was booked and nobody showed up, and I heard they were being unresponsive to couples. We filed a police report and I believe others have as well,” says King. 

Upon receiving the news, King tells Victoria Buzz that the reality of losing this large deposit has been devastating to the couple who have now called off their wedding. 

“It’s been absolutely devastating. We’ve had to reconsider if we’re able to go through with the wedding. That deposit in itself was 20% of the entire budget. We booked them a year and a half out because nobody is available on 6 months notice. It’s been incredibly stressful,” says King. 

Another client, who has requested anonymity due to the nature of his work, tells Victoria Buzz they are out $4,000 after having to postpone their 2021 wedding during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We downsized our event significantly. When we tried to change our catering order, they weren’t willing to do our event for scheduling reasons. We had an agreement with them that our deposit would go towards just a credit for food from them that we would have until 2022 to utilize,” they said.

After trying to use the credit in 2022, the couple describe their experience as, “an absolute nightmare.”

After months of demanding to know the whereabouts of their money through email conversations and declined calls, Nick Waters, the Executive Chef and Director of Toque Catering finally responded to the couple’s inquiry through Facebook. 

“It was very odd, they finally responded to me on Facebook very defensively that they don’t owe us anything and they’re not going to give us any food.”

“I asked him, ‘why is this so challenging’? You gave us a voucher and we’re trying to utilize the voucher. The last response I got was, ‘You’re kidding me? You’re asking me why this is so challenging?’ He basically told me to f-off.”

In addition to the stolen $4,000 deposit, the couple tells Victoria Buzz, throughout the pandemic, Toque Catering was requesting additional charges of $1,000 or more to hold down their deposits. 

“They had all these other schemes. We gave them an extra thousand dollars to hold our deposit because they were asking clients for support as they struggled through the pandemic.”

In a Facebook post shared by one of Toque Catering’s former clients, Crystal Deanne, ex-employee of the catering company and partner to Nick Waters, responded in the comment section saying, “No one said deposits weren’t being paid back, it’s all going through accountants and lawyers now. You’re wrong if you don’t think we have compassion for people, this has been devastating for everyone.”

In response to Victoria Buzz reaching out to Toque Catering for comment, they released a statement on Thursday, where Waters addressed the company’s plans to file for bankruptcy.  

“Despite our best efforts to adapt to the challenging circumstances brought on by the pandemic, the prolonged lockdowns and restrictions placed on events and gatherings have severely impacted our operations, leading to insurmountable financial losses. We have explored every possible option to keep the business afloat, but unfortunately, we have been left with no choice but to cease operations,” said Waters.

While it is unclear how the local business will refund the deposits to its clients, Waters says more information will be announced soon.

“We understand that this news may come as a shock to many of you, and we want to assure you that we are doing everything possible to meet our obligations as we follow the established processes outlined in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.”

“We will communicate with you further about the details of our planned bankruptcy and the steps we are taking to mitigate any impact on you as soon as possible,” said Waters.

“Once again, we want to express our heartfelt appreciation for your support, and we regret that we cannot continue to serve you in the future.”

More to come.

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