My News 3, a Las Vegas NBC TV affiliate, aired several stories about the closure of Griffin Mansions, a local wedding venue. The first of several stories aired, last Friday, June 29th. (videos are available for viewing on the Channel 3, site).
The first story follows the experiences of one bride and includes some ‘undercover footage’ of a faux-bride, touring the mansion, though it was not operational at the time.
Facts, information and meaningless points
The mansion has been closed for ‘health code’ violations since mid-May. The story includes an appearance from a Health District representative. He explains that the venue only had ‘bar permit‘ which was suspended for several reasons. After the news-piece ran, a station anchor added the venue had been hosting weddings for about five years, but never had a permit for preparing/serving food or hosting weddings.
My News 3 reporter, Michelle Velez made a point of explaining the tragic nature of couples being thrown into chaos when informed that their weddings could not take place, as planned. She also asked for a comment from a mansion worker, who closed the gates in her face with, “No comment”. The reporter had not yet asked a question when she received the ‘no comment’ response. Then she asked a question to the closed gate, apparently to get the situation ‘on the record’ for News 3 cameras.
Velez stated “The owner of Griffin Mansion is under criminal investigation.” Never said who it was, what the investigation was about, or if it was relevant to this story.
The story also underscored that the venue continued to try to book business, though operations were suspended.
A little research…
A few phone calls on my part, quickly uncovered that staff, at Griffin, had made every effort to move weddings and events to other facilities. And, had been successful, in some cases.
As of yesterday, the Griffin Mansion website and Facebook page were down. Customer of the mansions reported phone calls were not being returned. I know of one person who had conversations with the event manager. I would speculate that the shutdown of the website and Facebook page indicate Griffin Mansion will not make a comeback.
There are multiple sets of victims. The wedding couples, and their families… on multiple levels that seem quite obvious.
The next set of victims are event professionals, scheduled to work these events. It seems pretty clear that many receptions have not or will not take place. Those vendors will lose the bookings and be unlikely to replace them on short notice.
Members of Griffin Event Staff (both part-time and fulltime) are collateral damage, through the failures of ownership and management.
The entire Las Vegas wedding community gets a black eye, as a by-product of this fiasco. Many cities have gone through similar experiences, be it the closure of a Bridal Salon or some other fiasco. The mud gets splattered on everyone.
The obvious culprit is Griffin Mansion ownership and management, having failed to seek or obtain proper permitting for five years. It is difficult to believe that these failures could have taken place out of ignorance.
The owner either KNEW OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that food service and event venue permits were necessary.
In my opinion: The County Health District appears incompetent, at a minimum. Any bit of curiosity, at the start, or anytime during the last five years, would have uncovered the lack of proper permits. Shutting the venue down is proper, but it leaves every unsuspecting wedding couple in the lurch.
The news story, as it stands, today, is of limited value… the horses have already left the barn! The venue is closed, period. It seems 99.9% certain that it will not reopen. A story, such as this one, does only so much to improve awareness. Unfortunately, it cannot do much to increase the likelihood of booked clients getting money back.
The story filled a few minutes of the news hour with some drama, but the concrete impact on wedding couples and businesses needs a lot more detail.
Las Vegas has had its share of challenges with home-based venues. Some homes are rented out as party-houses, under sketchy zoning, as “vacation rentals,” for example. Those generate noise complaints, among other ordinances they likely violate.
In this case, it’s surprising that no wedding vendors (that I’m aware of) noticed the lack of a Health Permit, at any point in the last five years. When one is working in a home-based venue for events, a sharper eye is important.
Hard to find, in this case. Hopefully, wedding professionals will pay more attention to who they work with. This is a tragedy for every wedding couple, their guests, the wedding professionals, and event staff at the mansion.
If you have other first hand knowledge to share, please do. I will likely write a follow-up piece on ‘disaster public relations’.
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