It was to be a “day long celebration of the dough, cheese, tasty sauces and delicious toppings.” It was to be a gala of gooey mozzarella, a tribute to toppings every stripe and style — heck, it was even supposed to be an ambitious attempt to finally “settle the NYC styled Pizza against Chicago Deep Dish pizza wars!”
In a word, it was the New York Pizza Festival. It cost up to $75 dollars to attend. And it didn’t exactly pan out as advertised.
In fact, the alleged disparity between the Saturday event’s billing and what ultimately happened was so vast, the New York attorney general is now looking into the matter. A spokesman for Eric Schneiderman’s office said they have reached out to the organizers and “opened an inquiry” — including inviting attendees to submit their stories to the office.
“We are concerned about the online complaints that we’ve seen,” the spokesman told NPR.
Those complaints aren’t pretty.
Frustrated attendees on social media told of “3 booths in a Brooklyn parking lot,” crowded with long lines but — for at least an hour — reportedly entirely empty of pizza. When that pizza did arrive, delivered in drips and drabs, attendees say the pies were sliced razor-thin to make the limited supplies last longer.
Sylwia Mordel, who attended and shared her photographs of the event with NPR, says there was also supposed to be a hamburger festival at the same time, in the same location. For at least an hour, she says the table set for burgers was glaringly empty as well.
The DJ showed up, though.
“It was like the people from Fyre Festival decided to throw a pizza party,” Connell Burke tells Gothamist, drawing a rather unflattering comparison to music festival that promised “the best in food, art, music and adventure” — and delivered a product so infamously disastrous its organizer was arrested earlier this summer on a federal fraud charge.
And that’s in addition to the $100 million lawsuit already filed by an irate Fyre-goer.
Some attendees of the pizza fest appear intent on following the same path, organizing a Facebook group for everyone “scammed by the fake pizza festival or the fake hamburger festival.” An administrator of the Pizza Festival Scam Victims page says “a lawyer is interested in this and is investigating what needs to be done.”
By Saturday evening, the festival’s organizers had apologized and warned off attendees who hadn’t arrived yet, saying there had been “an incredible amount of delays in pizza delivery.”
“Fresh, diverse, and delicious pizza was supposed to be delivered every 30 minutes,” the festival’s Facebook event page noted. It also added that a “make-up tasting will be announced shortly.”
From the deluge of refund requests in that post’s comments, it appears there will be more than a few people unwilling to take them up on that offer.
“It was nothing but Jesus [that] stopped me from flipping over those tables,” Vanessa D. Kissee wrote on Facebook, noting she’d driven all the way in from Albany for the event.
“I also pray for them,” she added, “because God will deal with them accordingly.”