Wildwood business owner says he will pay grads back for summer rental

FOX 29 has been looking for answers from a local property owner after a group of high school grads lost out on their summer rental down the shore. They don't have a place to stay any longer and they've lost thousands of dollars. In fact, their Wildwood shore house isn't even built yet.

READ MORE: Local high school graduates plans for Wildwood summer shattered

The Cattle n' Clover was locked-up when FOX 29 arrived looking for owner John Sheppard. Moments later, we saw Sheppard driving away.

Wildwood's mayor is not happy.

"I feel for those kids I really do. Nobody wants to come down here spend your hard earned money and end up with an empty bag. It's not what we're about," Mayor Ernie Troiano said.

That's what eight recent Philly-area high school graduates say happened to them. They claim they paid Sheppard $22,000 to live in apartments this summer he was to build above the Cattle 'n Clover on Pacific Ave. Sadly, when they arrived last week nothing was there.

FOX 29 returned today to get some answers from Sheppard who also has ownership stakes in two other restaurants on Pacific. We called a number for him and got his elderly mother on the phone. She defended her son.

Meanwhile, the owner of the Twilight--across the street from Sheppard's place--says this hurts all Wildwood businesses.

"I'm really shocked. It is not nice to do this to unsuspecting people who wants to come on vacation--take their money--not inform them prior--hey, the place isn't ready," Twilight owner Kathleen Mancini said.

After calling and knocking on the restaurant door, John Sheppard did call for a brief talk. He claimed the boys were late on two payments which a parent says isn't true. Sheppard now says he'll pay them back in full--starting with a check Tuesday.