Wedding couples angry, frustrated over abrupt closings - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Wedding couples angry, frustrated over abrupt Barmuda closings

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Dozens of Cedar Valley brides-to-be and their fiance's are upset and frustrated.

They learned Monday that they need to change their wedding plans, and quickly, due to the closure of the Sky Event Center in downtown Waterloo.

The couples had booked the Sky Event Center for their wedding day celebrations, but the center has been closed without warning, by Barmuda Companies Owner Darin Beck. Beck announced the closing of Black's 501 Steakhouse and the Sky Event Center in the Black's Building in downtown Waterloo on Monday morning. Beck cited financial difficulties with the businesses as the cause.

The closings have left couples like Ashley Fetch and her fiance, Ben Jones, scrambling to find a new venue.

Months ago, Fetch and Jones booked the Sky Event Center for their wedding and reception, and planned to have their rehearsal dinner at Black's 501 Steakhouse. Fortunately, their wedding is still eight months away.

That's not the case for Dawn Geary and her fiance, Jason Helmrichs. Their wedding is about a month away, on Sept. 24.

In addition, both couples have already paid Barmuda large advance deposits, but have yet to get that money back. They want that money returned to them as quickly as possible, so they can make weddings plans at other venues.

In Ashley and Ben's case, she says they have already paid some $2,000 to Barmuda. Dawn and Jason say they have about $1,500 coming back from their early deposit money.

Beck abruptly closed The Sky Event Center and the 501 Steakhouse and Piano Bar, citing poor economic conditions and ongoing disputes with the building's owner, Midtown Development, operated by Donna Nelson, as the reasons for the abrupt closings.

"We are committed to helping our Brides find a way to make their dates happen. We will do everything in our power to find them another place for their wedding receptions. Deposits made by anyone with a booking at Sky or Black's will receive full credit towards their event at any other Barmuda venue or a full refund if preferred," Beck said in a written news release.

Beck claims his company is owed more than $800,000 in unpaid materials, reimbursements and construction labor regarding the cost of the some $2 million renovation to the historic downtown Waterloo landmark building. 

Donna Nelson says the closings came as a complete surprise, that Beck did not tell her prior to the closings. Nelson says she first heard of the closings when she was contacted by KWWL.

Nelson also says she disputes Beck's claims that Midtown owes Barmuda $800,000. Neither Beck nor Nelson would agree to on-camera interviews with KWWL-TV on Monday. 

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