Water’s Edge Gastropub and Lounge seemed like the perfect place for special events with its location along the Neshaminy stream in Bensalem.
Now those who have booked events, including couples planning weddings, say the owner cashed their checks but closed before a party could take place.
Complaints against the restaurant and event space are piling up, Michael Bannon, director of consumer protection, Bucks County weights and measures, said Thursday. He said several customers claimed Water’s Edge took — and then processed — deposits for various events, even though the company announced it was temporarily closing on Aug. 3.
On Facebook, the company posted: “Temporarily closed for maintenance,” with no further explanation or expected reopening date. Bannon said the county has no information on a possible reopening.
The business remains closed more than two weeks later.
“It’s very tragic and sad for everyone involved when you plan an event and pay upfront only to have something like this happen; I’m sorry to hear that,” Bannon said. “We’re starting to hear complaints from people affected by this. I hope this company does what a lot of good companies in Bucks County do, which is that their customers are right and they do what they do. it’s necessary.
“We will certainly investigate all complaints and see what we can do.”
Prior to opening as Water’s Edge, the 1067 Totem Road location was once home to High Tides Restaurant and Bar. High Tides had received dozens of complaints and liquor code violations dating back to 2016, according to Pennsylvania State Police.
Offense history for High Tides/Water’s Edge
More recently, the State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement cited High Tides/Water’s Edge three times in the past two years.
In September 2021, the bureau cited operators for “non-compliance” with the conditional licensing agreement with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Last March, the operators were again cited for not respecting its agreement with the board of directors and for not having kept “complete and true records” covering the licensed company “for a period of two years. immediately preceding April 2021, according to state documents. .
And the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, once in November 2019 and again in March 2021, informed High Tides in its last agreement that it “opposes the renewal of the license for the term of the license beginning December 1 2019, based on nine adjudicated citations, 16 incidents of public disorder since December 2017, a violation of the January 16, 2014 conditional license agreement, because the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office filed a complaint to the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas seeking an injunction” under Section 611 of the Liquor Code.
The latest agreement also cited incidents of disorderly operations, including fights, drug use and shootings.
This agreement also sets out a series of stipulations that the owners must respect and excludes the new owners of the license from having any direct or indirect contact with High Tides.
William Rushton, acting as a member of High Tides Investors, LLC, signed the agreement on November 22.
High Tides then began the process of transferring its liquor license to the Water’s Edge property in December and had 60 days to do so. That window closed and instead of operating without the ability to sell alcohol, Water’s Edge operators decided to close, said Shawn Kelly, spokesman for the state liquor board.
Kelly, not to mention the Water’s Edge case in particular, said that generally the board will agree to renew a license if the licensee agrees to sell to someone else.
“If an establishment has a known problematic operational history, the board can say they will renew the license, but they cannot use it,” Kelly said. “We understand that licenses are valuable things, so we give them every opportunity to transfer them and let someone else use them.
“(This CLA) was signed in November 2021; they could operate for 59 (more) days before they finally put (the license) in safekeeping and suspend their liquor service.”
As it stands, Water’s Edge’s liquor license is on “pending,” and Kelly said there’s no timeline for when that status will change. Kelly also said the board does not track the amount of each license sold or transferred.
Water’s Edge operators did not respond to messages seeking comment on Thursday. There was no sign of activity at the closed location on Thursday afternoon, except for a team of ducks taking advantage of the vacant slide, and the sun-bleached river bridge was roped off with drawn umbrellas.
On Wednesday, on his professional Facebook page, a message alerted visitors to the reimbursement of at least one event.
“Anyone who purchased brunch tickets are refunded by the promoter through eventbrite may take 7-10 days,” it read. “Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Distraught people have taken to Water’s Edge Facebook posts to express their frustrations over the shutdown and alleged cashing of deposits.
“What about the poor people who put down deposits for lifetime events just to shut down your establishment? You clearly knew you didn’t have a liquor license when you cashed those checks,” he said. written on a poster in response to the Water’s Edge closure announcement. “You didn’t have a month when I was there to eat, so what made you think you would have it when these events took place? Do the right thing and repay those people.”
Another poster questioned the owner’s business ethics.
“Does anyone have any contact with the owner? My sister booked her wedding here and they said they couldn’t do it anymore,” the poster wrote. “She posted a bond but no one can get in touch with the landlord and she would like her bond returned. She has a contract with them but no one is giving her an answer.”
Bannon said he was “very interested” in seeing details of the contracts individuals and parties had with Water’s Edge as he delves into the complaints.
“The first thing I want to see is the contracts, because the cancellation clause is usually in the fine print; the cancellation clause is very important,” Bannon said. “I learned doing this for quite a few years and especially during (the pandemic) that it was more important than ever for people to pay attention to the cancellation clause.”
In the meantime, Bannon has encouraged concerned consumers to contact its offices in a myriad of ways to file a complaint against Water’s Edge.
“Anyone can call us with questions at 1-800-942-2669, or email us at consumer email@example.com,” Bannon said. “Or, they can just file a complaint directly online. All of these ways will work.
“But we’ve seen this stuff before,” Bannon added, “and we’re going to work with them and try to help them. I’m cautiously optimistic.”