Fresno woman gets judgment against party business


Fresno’s mother Crystal Ballesteros has won a judgment against a catering company she says nearly ruined her daughter’s quinceanera by canceling her services the night before

Months of planning for Crystal Ballesteros’ 15-year-old daughter’s quinceanera celebration came to a screeching halt on June 24, when the party-planning company she was dependent on pulled out of the event the day before.

Although Ballesteros, along with her family and friends, is still throwing the party for 250 people, she remembers thinking she wasn’t going to let the company go unpunished.

Ballesteros, a single mother of three, took over the business, Sofia’s Creaciones, in small claims court and recently won a judgment for almost everything she was owed, $4,510.

“I wasn’t going to let my daughter down and I wasn’t going to let this company do this to us,” Ballesteros said Monday. “We’ve been talking about her quinceanera since she was 8.”

Sofias Creaciones on Fulton Street in downtown Fresno did not return messages from The Bee on Monday.

Quinceaneras are a rite of passage celebration in Hispanic culture, mixing a religious ceremony with a formal party and dancing. It celebrates a 15-year-old girl’s transition to adulthood.

It’s also not uncommon for families to spend thousands of dollars on a quinceanera.

Ballesteros’ total price for her daughter’s party approached $16,000.

She paid Sofia’s Creaciones around $5,000 for the rental of charro outfits, like those worn by mariachi musicians, catering, indoor and outdoor decor, centerpieces, waiters and a bartender.

But when she arrived on June 24, the day before her daughter’s birthday, she was told she had to pay more money for the outfits.

“They told us we owed a $100 deposit for each costume and that came out to $600,” Ballesteros said. “I told him I was never made aware of this. They also told us that if we didn’t pay we had to bring the suits back, but I told them we needed them tomorrow.

Ballesteros was able to secure the charro outfits and centerpieces, but not before a confrontation with store management that also involved a visit from the Fresno Police Department.

She said the police helped sort things out, allowing her to take centerpieces and outfits. But the owners of the business refused to do anything more for Ballesteros, despite being paid upfront.

That meant no food, decorations, servers, or bartender.

“I wondered how I’m going to do this,” she said. “But I’m a strong mother and I knew I had to do it.”

Reaching out to family and friends, people donated food and prepared it. They also served as wait staff. The caterer’s menu was supposed to include birria, chili ribs, rice, beans, macaroni salad, fries and salsa.

“We ended up making tacos, but I think it means more to us because it’s the family that came together to make it,” she said.

One thing Ballesteros was particularly upset about was that the decorations weren’t what she and her daughter had been planning for weeks. Her daughter hadn’t realized that her mother had found someone the night before to do the decorations inside the Buena Vista Event Center in Madera.

“She honestly thought there would be no decorations, but she walked in and saw it all, she started crying,” Ballesteros said.

Ballesteros’ next challenge will be to collect the money that belongs to him from the company. She said she called Sofia several times about the judgment and was told the company’s insurance company would pay it. It was several weeks ago.

“I don’t want to put a lien on his store,” she said. “But I still get the bypass.”

This story was originally published November 15, 2022 06:00.

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A Valley native, Robert has worked at The Fresno Bee since 1994, covering a variety of topics including education, business and agriculture. It currently covers the courts.

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