Joetopia

Vow should come from Weyrich

My condolences to any of you who were unwittingly duped into giving David Weyrich money in the hopes of having a wedding at Villa Toscana — the pricey Paso Robles nuptial hotspot that closed in the midst of Monday’s foreclosure on several high-profile Weyrich properties.

Tell me this: How rotten would it be, in the first week of February, to get a call from your site’s wedding planner telling you that the place you picked for your dream June date just went belly up?

Oh yeah, and the 10 G’s you forked over to reserve the weekend? Good luck getting that back.

That’s the totally non-triumphant news that L.A. groom Michael Swan is dealing with this week, among others who had reservations at Villa Toscana.

While trying to get to the bottom of what may be a bottomless pit of fouled-up Weyrich finances, Villa Toscana couples got nothing but squirrelly answers about how they might be reimbursed, seeing as they probably don’t rank real high on the list of creditors owed money by the one-time North County mogul.

The best answer of the pathetic lot was that perhaps they could get their deposits credited toward, say, a stay at another thriving Weyrich property, that being The Carlton Hotel in Atascadero, because so many brides dream of trading a romantic vineyard wedding for one with a view of a muffler shop and a boarded-up Jack in the Box.

How sweet does that sound?

This, of course, is the same Carlton that just issued a “last call!” on its bar and restaurant patrons and is now open only for overnight hotel guests.

Weyrich finally broke his lengthy silence on Wednesday, and, in an e-mail to Tribune reporter Melanie Cleveland, pointed both fingers at Heritage Oaks Bank, who he says is holding the bag with all the bridal cash.

This may sound good, except for the little detail that Heritage Oaks unequivocally disagrees as to the whereabouts of the money.

“I want to reiterate. The bank does not have those funds — I want to make that very clear,” executive Vice President Bill Raver said Tuesday.

Hmmm, who to believe? The once-prominent local businessman who’s now losing his shirt or the prominent local bank that may still want a piece of that fine apparel?

Oh, and the bank also sued Weyrich for $4.5 million in overdue loans last year before settling, so if they did have the $232,000 and had simply applied it to the bottom line of an unpaid debt, one could certainly understand.

Meanwhile — and this is really rich — in case you’re an exceedingly trusting type and still wanted to hook up a reservation at the closed Villa Toscana, you’ll be happy to know the Web site apparently remains fully functional — at least as far as I was willing to test it — with no indication of the financial difficulties swirling in the background.

In fact, as of 8 Wednesday night, a highlighted red box on the site still crows, “Reserve your stay at the Villa Toscana Bed and Breakfast and get away from all the rustle and bustle.”

Get away from the rustle and bustle?

It looks like all you’re gonna get is rustled if you make a reservation.

On this point, though, Weyrich says, “We are not taking any reservations on our Web site, and I have not seen any come thru to the best of my knowledge.”

That being said, I got as far as the place where they look to harvest my credit card information without a problem, before turning Firefox around faster than you can say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

I’m not going to be the sacrificial lamb who gets to verify Weyrich’s claim.

For all I know, Villa Toscana’s seeing how much cash it can scoop up through a sham online portal before too many people get wise.

To wrap up, a message to David Weyrich:

You’ve been doing a good job of zipping your lips and dodging questions for several weeks now.

It was all fine and good when it was just your own empire that was crumbling.

Don’t want to talk about that? That’s your prerogative.

But now you’re taking other people down, too, innocent clients who are seeing the most memorable day of their lives dashed to smithereens.

The least you could do is level with them. The most you could do is figure out a way to make things right.

Anywhere in between is better than where we are right now.

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor at The Tribune. He writes the Joetopia blog at sanluisobispo.com.

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