ROC Brewing Co. to close Oct. 7; couple who booked space hoping for refund

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A local brewing business is shutting its doors Saturday at midnight and leaving some people who have rented out space scrambling to make new plans.

One couple who put down a deposit for an event in December at ROC Brewing learned Wednesday that the business is closing and not offering refunds.

ROC Brewing has been a popular beer pub in the city’s East End, on South Union Street, but co-owner Chris Spinelli says the brewery has been struggling to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He is shutting down the business even though there are people who have booked private parties.

Andy Frey and Allie Vanbuskirk booked ROC Brewing for their private event. They are getting married in December and wanted a special place for their rehearsal gathering, so they went to ROC Brewing.

It was the perfect place to host 25 of their family and friends for the special occasion and they loved the atmosphere, so they put down a deposit for $700.

“We went on August 18th just to double-check to see the space that they would provide us, loved it, put the deposit down right then and there — and then just got the email today,” Allie Vanbuskirk, the bride-to-be, said.

The email Vanbuskirk received from ROC Brewing in part said the business is closing its doors Saturday and is no longer able to host their event. Worse, it goes on to say that, due to financial constraints, it wouldn’t be refunding the couple’s deposit.

“I was in shock. To be honest, I’m still in shock. I still don’t think this is happening. And to get an email saying we’re not getting our money back. I’m still in shock,” Vanbuskirk said.

Not only was she shocked, but she is now feeling stressed, especially since she just ordered invitations Tuesday.

Chris Spinelli is the co-owner of ROC Brewing, which has been in business for more than a decade.

Spinelli says like many bars and restaurants, the brewery has been unable to bounce back from the pandemic.

“The whole industry is feeling it. I mean everyone. I’m sure you guys feel it at the gas pump and when you are out. It’s changed things around here,” Spinelli said.

“We were hoping to make it a little longer, but we couldn’t. We had to shut down, not quite on our time frame,” he added.

He did say he would refund Allie and Andy their $700.

“We’re refunding them. We are going to take care of them and make that right,” Spinelli said.

Frey is remaining optimistic.

“I mean, it’s fantastic! That’s the expectation and the right thing to do. I also won’t be satisfied until we see that refund,” Frey said.

Roc Brewing apologized in an email to Frey and Vanbuskirk, and sent other event space options. However, the couple say those event spots cost more and are over their budget.

Their friends are also helping them nail down some alternatives.

Spinelli thanks the community for its support throughout the 12 years of the brewery being in business. He says they love this community and the other brewers and wish everyone the best.