Fontana Bridal Customer Out $3,500 Deposit, Offered Sample Dress

Mickey proposes to Nicole

Michael proposed to Nicole on her birthday, Dec. 4. Contributed photo

Michael, Nicole and Zoe

Newly engaged Nicole with Michael and his dog Zoe. Contributed photo

Janet Betancourt was delighted for her daughter, Nicole, 30, when her boyfriend Michael proposed to her on her birthday last Dec. 4.

Michael, who the family calls “Mickey,” had arranged for his older sister to take a photograph of his proposal, and even made sure to include his dog, Zoe.

Janet said her daughter, Nicole, the elder of two daughters has been beaming ever since.

The Betancourts live in Westchester, having moved from the Bronx to Yonkers and ultimately to Briarcliff Manor. The couple have two daughters, Nicole and her sister Alaina, 24, who they raised in the Bronx.

“She found her love and he loves her too,” Janet said of Nicole and Michael. Janet and her daughter have been having fun planning the wedding, which is set for Labor Day, 2016.

Nicole had fallen in love with a dress at Fontana Bridal Shop designed by Stephen Yearick, and though the price was beyond their original budget, Janet said she’d never thrown her daughters extravagant parties.

 Janet, Nicole, Alaina and Albert in a happier moment. Contributed, Janet Bentacourt

Janet, Nicole, Alaina and Albert in a happier moment. Contributed, Janet Bentacourt

“We’re not rich people,” Janet told Greenwich Free Press, adding that it took her a year to save up that $3,500 from her modest salary as a receptionist.

“Fontana’s was a place in Scarsdale that we’d always admired and considered very sophisticated,” Janet said of the shop which had expanded to Greenwich. “Shopping for the dress at Fontana’s was a dream.”

“I didn’t think I was going to spend that amount of money,” Janet confessed, of the dress which came in with a $6,580 price tag including tax and $695 for alterations.

Having put down a deposit of about half the cost of the dress, Janet said Nicole’s grandmother had offered to pay for the balance.

“My mother was excited and wanted to be a part of the wedding plans too,” Janet said.

Janet and Nicole Betancourt. Contributed photo

Janet and Nicole Betancourt. Contributed photo

“But when she tried it on it was so beautiful. And her eyes and her happiness, and her smile…” Janet’s voice trailed off as she began to describe the disappointment of learning the deposit was lost last week when Fontana’s Bridal Shop closed abruptly.

The closing is due to Nancy Fontana’s severe illness. Nancy and her husband Cory Fontana, grandson of Anita Fontana, who founded the store in 1942 in the Bronx, had been operating at the 45 East Putnam Ave until last week.

The Fontanas issued a statement, which is taped to the door of the shuttered bridal shop, which coincidentally is located under the second floor Greenwich Chamber of Commerce.

Since emerging from a coma, according to the statement, Nancy suffers from Stage Four bedsores,” the statement said. “Her prognosis is very bleak… This put an incredible strain on the business to the point that Cory can no longer maintain it.”

The statement suggests that credit card customers request a full refund from their credit card companies.

Unfortunately Janet, paid the Fontanas with a check.

Fontana Bridal Shop“I wouldn’t have even minded losing the $3,500 because I believe in God,” Janet said, adding that initially she thought the money was going toward Nancy Fontana’s medical care.

“But it hasn’t even been two months since putting the deposit down and it feels a bit like a scam,” she said, adding that she’d received a call from a Fontana family relative named Debbie, who said that Fontanas would not be returning her deposit because the dress was ready and they hoped to deliver it right away. Janet suspected the Fontanas were trying to pass off the sample dress.

Fontana Bridal

Fontana Bridal Shop on East Putnam Ave. Credit: Leslie Yager

“The designer, Stephen Yearick, is one of the few designers that custom makes his wedding dresses to the bride’s measurements. In August, Fontana assured me the dress would take eight months to create,” Janet said.

Janet said Fabrizio from Stephen Yearick’s business called this week and said he’d check to see if the order had even been placed.

“Debbie also told me that Fontana will be claiming bankruptcy and when they do, I won’t be able to have either the dress or the deposit back,” Janet said.

“This just hurts,” Janet said of the entire ordeal. “This has left a bad taste in our mouths and we’d really just like our deposit back.”

“The key here is that it’s about my daughter,” Janet said. “When her fiance, Michael, came to propose and ask her hand in marriage, it was a complete surprise. She found her love. It gave us so much joy, but this happening took away that joy and I feel like I’ve been robbed.”

“I never did anything special for my daughter as far as sweet sixteen or graduations, but I wanted to buy her the wedding dress, her dream dress.” – Janet Betancourt

Janet said Nicole visited over this past weekend and there was a sadness in her eyes. She said she doesn’t even want the dress back, and at this point, they want the deposit back so they can use it as a deposit for a new dress.

“I don’t want my daughter to settle for any dress because she feels guilty about my losing my money,” Janet said.

See also: Fontana’s Bridal Shop on East Putnam Ave Closes Abruptly


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Email news tips to Greenwich Free Press editor Leslie.Yager@GreenwichFreePress.com
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  • Nicole Alcantra

    Shame on you! Shame on Nicole and her family and shame on GFP for printing this.

    No one ever saw this tragedy coming to the Fontana Family. How can one plan for this? The answer is you can’t. So as we say in the military, “Adapt and overcome.”

    I cannot provide a solution, but I do recognize bad manners when I see them.

    • Bernadette

      To continue taking money from women for orders your cannot fill is criminal. What this store did is stealing plain and simple. They are scam artists.

      • Vic Lang

        Now there are no easy answers here but I can tell you this plain and simple. Cory could not have predicted the incredible strain his wife’s illness would place upon them. He tried for many months to hold it together and take care of his wife and his business full time. I know he tried to take care of his customers (his loyalty and integrity should NOT be called into question). Yes, I understand the emotional roller coaster that comes with purchasing a dress but don’t think for a moment it was an intentional “scam”..as you call it. It’s simply a situation where he needs to take care of his homefront first. I am sure amends will be made to those brides to be. PS: I have known this couple for, literally, 45 years. Some compassion under the circumstances would be most appropriate.

  • Gina

    I had the pleasure of speaking with Nicole’s mother last night and she was the kindest, sweetest person. I am a stranger to her and I had offered my own wedding dress to Nicole after reading this article and feeling the heartbreak that she has to endure knowing now that she has this roadblock ahead of her.

    What I think people forget is that other people are going through stuff too and that planning a wedding can be an escape from those bad things that are weighing us down everyday. My 20-year-old sister was diagnosed with cancer right before my wedding and was going through chemo and actually had no hair by the time my wedding came. We looked forward to going dress shopping and making those memories because it was something to take our minds off of everything that was going wrong. Obviously no one saw this coming with Fontana’s, but that is certainly no way to treat the community that you served for 70 years. Nicole and her family are not the only ones who recently purchased a gown from there who will not actually get it and they have every right to be upset and concerned.

  • Tina

    How dare YOU, Nicole A.

    How could she not feel like this was a scam. Why would they keep taking orders while they knew they would be out of business soon. How dare them for putting people through this experience and insult them on their way out. Not only are they refusing deposits that never went toward their dresses but playing it off that the sample dress was her brand new dress?! How insulting! They could at least have the dignity to be honest, instead they are ruining their reputation, or what’s left of it. Shame on them for taking people’s money and doing who knows what with it.

  • Lindsay

    Fontana also put me through quite an ordeal when buying my wedding dress from them over a year ago. This was way before there were any family issues going on. They lied to me over and over and charged my card thousands when my dress wasn’t even there. 3 months before my wedding I finally contacted the designer directly and was told by that designer that I wash;t going to get my dress because Fontana wouldn’t pay them the balanced they owed them for my dress, even though they had already charged me that balance! I was beyond distraught. Luckily I found a place called Ever After Bridal who makes their dresses custom based on measurements and got me a gorgeous gown in just 2.5 months. Since it was made based on my measurements it needed no alterations. I was lucky to find them and can totally empathize with all of the other brides who are going through the same thing. It is a tremendous amount of stress, especially so close to your wedding date. I feel horrible about Cory’s wife but if you read his reviews he has been doing this to brides waaaaay before his wife became ill. It is awful. My prayers for his wife and family but he needs to take a long look in the mirror and realize how many people he has hurt and stolen from. It isn’t right and it’s time for it to stop.

  • Kris

    While I do sympathize with the family for stress the illness has caused, I also had a horrible experience with Fontana a few years back when they were still in Scarsdale and can completely sympathize with the bride to be. I had ordered a bridesmaid’s dress with many months to spare prior to my sister’s wedding. When it was one month out, I began calling since I had not heard anything. I kept getting the run around for weeks. Finally, the dress showed up a week and a half before the wedding and the only time to get me in for a fitting was that afternoon. I had to leave work early to get it done. The alterations were “complete” a few days later as they said they would rush them. I arrived and had to wait as they were very busy. When I asked to try it on before I left, they couldn’t/wouldn’t accommodate me. I left with the dress and tried it on immediately upon getting home and the alterations were horrendous. Not even attaching the spaghetti straps helped. It was lopsided and looked nothing like it did in my fitting appointment. I was so upset, but luckily, I had a dress in my closet ready to go as a back up and ended up wearing that for the wedding instead. Yes, when I was getting the run around, I went to David’s Bridal and got a plain black dress in case of emergency. Something no one should have to do. I contacted Cory just after the wedding and after some discussion he did provide me with a store credit, which I declined to use it after my experience. My dress was paid for by an extremely small inheritance that I received when my grandmother passed away. I treated myself to something nice, plus it was my way of making my grandmother part of the day, since she was no longer with us. I still have the dress hanging in my closet that never got fixed and now a useless store credit.