Instead of being a celebration of brunch, New York’s first-ever BrunchCon may have actually ruined it.
“I hate this,” muttered one attendee around 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, about three hours into the five-hour event. It was a common sentiment among the2,250 attendees, who paid between $55-$95 for what was promised to be unlimited food and drinks, but were mostly treated to the worst part of brunch: waiting.
It took up to 90 minutes just to get inside Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall; once there, the nearly 50 food and drink vendors were divided into zones that attendees could only enter once, creating a few long, slow-moving lines. The wait at the event's two bars also stretched to half an hour.
Bride-to-be Beth Colucci came to BrunchCon with a group of friends for her pre-wedding celebration. “I have three bridesmaids who are pregnant, and we wanted to do something that we thought we would all be able to enjoy,” she said.
They drove two hours from Dutchess County, then waited an hour to get in at 11:30 a.m., and had managed to hit only four food stations by 1:30 p.m. By the time they left at 2 p.m., Colucci estimates they’d made it less than half the food stations. “I used to work in event planning, and this is the most unorganized, poorly run event I've been to,” she said.
“It would be nice if we didn't have to play Jenga with the trash,” snarked Amanda Schifferdecker of the overflowing garbage cans. Plates were also piled on tables and chairs, and the marble floor was made even more slick by spilled drinks. Staff who did not look like they’d come dressed for janitorial duties eventually came around to clean up some of the mess.
“They wiped us out,” said Tara Pezek, a manager at Upper West Side Italian restaurant Machiavelli. She and her team had given out all 2,000 servings of their panettone French toast with Grand Marnier maple syrup by 1:15 p.m., just over three hours into the five-hour event. “It was a little bit oversold.”
The long waits weren’t the only problem though. “I felt very unsafe for them,” Colucci says of her three pregnant bridesmaids, one of whom is due in three weeks. “People were very rude and very pushy. We were shoved out of the way multiple times by drunk people.
“Half of the time, and maybe this was just the woman instinct in me, I was searching for an exit. I thought it would be a disaster for people to get out if something happened.”
Reached by phone on Sunday afternoon, a representative for BrunchCon did not return a request for comment by press time.
BrunchCon wasn’t a total bust. Those who arrived early or stuck out the initial rush got nosh on fresh doughnuts, orange mango mimosas, tuna tartare tacos, pork croquettes, breakfast empanadas and more. “There’s a lot of different varieties, and I'm really picky,” said Allie Nagy. Her friend Marina Blanchette added, “The food was delicious. I didn't have one of thing that was disappointing.”
But judging by the Facebook comments, what most people remember won’t be what they got to eat, if anything: