A mother has sued the party-planning friend of Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice, claiming that she hasn’t returned more than $33,000 intended for her son’s bar mitzvah.
The lawsuit against Elvira Grau, her husband and their business partner, Andrew Zang, was filed this week after the alleged incident began in January 2019.
Barrie Granito, a single mother and Upper East Side real-estate agent, told Page Six that she paid Grau $35,510 to host a bar mitzvah for her young son.
But after the party was rescheduled – and eventually canceled – due to the coronavirus pandemic, Grau allegedly wouldn’t refund the money.
Barrie Granito (left), a New York City real estate agent, has filed a lawsuit against Elvira Grau, the party-planning friend of Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice
Pictured: Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice (left) and Elvira Grau (right)
According to Page Six, Grau is friends with local TV celebrity Teresa Giudice and has made appearances on the long-running Bravo series.
Grau, who owns Space New Jersey in Englewood, also organized events for Giudice.
Granito said that she planned to hold her son’s special party at Grau’s newest Manhattan location, Space 54.
‘I knew that Elvira was known in New Jersey for creating exciting parties, so I made an appointment and had a hard-hat tour [while Space 54] was still being built,’ Granito told Page Six. ‘I got really excited.’
Granito alleged in the lawsuit and to Page Six that she planned to hold her son’s bar mitzvah celebration at Space 54 (pictured), one of the Graus newest locations
Her mother’s dying wish, said Granito, was for her grandson to have a bar mitzvah.
‘I signed a contract, and I left a deposit of $7,500 for a May 15, 2020 party,’ Granito told Page Six.
According to documents viewed by the publication, the contract detailed that ‘if Space 54 fails to comply … due to any event or act outside and beyond the scope of Space 54’s control, [venue] liability shall be limited to a refund of the deposit.’
Marc Held, Granito’s attorney, claimed that this meant all of the deposit money.
Granito and Grau, 50, agreed to a $40,000 deal that included several accommodations, including catering for 140 guests, a DJ, games, dancers, staff and equipment for the religious ceremony.
She paid all the deposits in cash and kept invoices of the transactions at Grau’s request, Page Six reports.
‘I didn’t really think about it. I just went along with everything,’ Granito told Page Six.
But then, Granito reportedly received a call from Grau in the second week of March, when the COVID-19 pandemic first strengthened its grip on the tri-state area.
According to Page Six, Grau (pictured) and Granito agreed to a $40,000 deal that covered 140 guests, a DJ and other accommodations
James and Elvira Grau (left to right) own Space New Jersey, a party and event planning service
‘I had just hand-delivered most of the invites and Elvira and [her husband and business partner] Jim called me and said, “Can you do us a big favor and give us $10,000? We’re going to be closing and we could really use the cash to pay our employees. We’re in a bind,”” Granito alleged Grau said.
The bar mitzvah was still 12 weeks away at the time, but court filings viewed by Page Six alleged that Granito was ‘pressured’ to fast track the money because the Grau’s were ‘broke.’
‘I said, “I don’t have that money.” I had already paid $31,000 in cash,’ Granito said.
‘I’m so stupid. They made me feel terrible because they said they couldn’t afford to pay their staff, so I ran over there and gave Elvira’s assistant whatever I had available, which was $2,100.’
As the pandemic continued, the two parties reportedly agreed to postpone the bar mitzvah until October 23.
But as cases skyrocketed and deaths mounted, it became clear New York City wouldn’t return to normal any time soon.
So, Granito held her son’s bar mitzvah ceremony at home in May with a rabbi performing the service via Zoom call.
Granito told Page Six that Grau offered to host the party in New Jersey, where party restrictions were lenient, but she asked for a refund instead.
Court filings alleged that Granito was ‘pressured’ to fast track her bar mitzvah payments because the Grau’s were ‘broke’ Pictured: Elvira Grau photographed with Tiffany Trump (left), as well as President Trump and Melania Trump (right)
Granito (right): ‘I want my money back and I don’t want anyone else to suffer like I have’
Grau allegedly told Granito they would ‘talk later,’ but the mother claimed ‘later never happened and I haven’t heard from her since July.’
The two reportedly had a brief interaction in August, but Granito said there was ‘dead silence’ afterwards.
‘I realized I’m not getting my money back,’ Granito told Page Six. Grau allegedly told a few party planner friends of Granito’s that she no longer had the money to refund.
The lawsuit is seeking the money, as well as attorney fees and relief for her distress, Page Six reports.
‘You can’t take money from Peter to pay Paul,’ Granito said. ‘I want my money back and I don’t want anyone else to suffer like I have.’
Attorney Evan Cowit, who represents the Graus family, denied the accusations to Page Six.
‘My clients have gone above and beyond to try and accommodate Ms. Granito. They believe that any claims she’s making are baseless and will vigorously defend themselves.’