PLAINVIEW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Many put thousands of dollars down for bar mitzvahs, communion parties and other special events at one Long Island catering hall, only now to find themselves scrambling after the venue suddenly closed its doors.

The Clemens were one of dozens of families stung by a broken contract. $12,500 were down the drain after Carlyle at the Palace abruptly closed, leaving people who booked and paid for special events scrambling.

It’s left the venue’s landlord, Nassau County Off-Track Betting Corporation, in the lurch.

“We spoke with him, he came right in here with his attorney, he was very confident,” OTB President Joseph Cairo said.

The “he” in the matter is catering owner Steve Carl, who OTB says admitted to having financial difficulties but pledged to honor his contract. Then, without warning, he fired his kitchen staff and in a terse email claimed OTB pulled out.

Carl’s lawyer would not comment, and Carl himself did not answer his door when CBS2 paid him a visit on Monday.

Cairo says OTB started immediately calling people who booked the approximately 70 events that were left hanging.

“My daughter is devastated,” Robyn Clemens said. “She loved the facility, she loved the place. Now we have to start all over and I’m not sure where we are going.”

Some alternative catering facilities have stepped in and offered to help, but recovering down payments may still be tough and most victims say they aren’t eager to shell out lawyers fees for civil lawsuits. Many of them have contacted Nassau County Consumer Affairs to hopefully rectify the situation.

In the meantime, OTB is seeking caterers who can operate on an interim basis until a formal bidding process is complete. They hope a new vendor can take over full-time starting January 1st.