Barmuda Statement on the closing of Black's 501 and Sky Event - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Barmuda Statement on the closing of Black's 501 Steakhouse and Sky Event Center

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The following news release was sent to KWWL by Barmuda regarding the closure of Black's 501 Steakhouse and Sky Event Center in downtown Waterloo.

Barmuda Companies announced the closing of Black's 501 Steakhouse and Piano Bar, as well as Sky Event Center, occupying portions of the ground floor, mezzanine and 8th floor in the Black's building. The restaurant originally opened as Roux Orleans in October of 2009 after a year and a half of construction. Due to economic conditions and ongoing disputes over renovation expenses the restaurant has failed for a second time.

According to Nation's Restaurant News (Aug. 2011), "Restaurant unit counts have declined by 2% or approximately 9,500 restaurants from April of 2010 to March of 2011 across the US. Of the closures, 92% have come from independently owned restaurants."

"It's no secret that the economy has been tough on local hospitality based businesses," comments Barmuda's owner Darin Beck. "And due to the enormous size of Black's facilities and the amount of money it takes to operate on a daily basis, it was simply no longer possible to remain open with the amount of revenue being generated by the operations there."

Discussions for a downtown Waterloo restaurant began in 2007, when Barmuda was enjoying record sales and profits. In early 2008 Beck agreed to team up with Midtown Development, the owner of the Black's Building, to open a restaurant, lounge and event center. "Donna Nelson and I thought the first floor and mezzanine would be a fantastic space for the creation of a new social hub in downtown Waterloo, and we felt just as strongly that the 8th floor ballroom needed to be reborn," Beck commented. The economy took a downturn prior to completion of construction, and people severely limited their discretionary spending. "We were forced to go through with opening the facilities as we had gotten past the point of no return. What we didn't know, was how bad things were really going to get. The business has never turned a profit, and losses from operations have been significant" he added.

Beck stated that the operational losses from the Black's venture have been compounded by a dispute regarding the cost of the renovation. "My company is owed over $800,000 in unpaid materials reimbursements and construction labor." The losses at Black's and the dispute over renovation costs have had a negative impact on Beck's other venues. "It literally came down to a decision to close Black's to stop the losses or risk losing the entire company and its other venues" said Beck.

The closing of the event center has Barmuda staff scrambling to find solutions for people that have scheduled events at Sky. "Probably the most difficult part of closing Black's operations has been figuring out how to deal with all of the weddings and bookings in Sky Event Center. 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," lamented Beck.

Black's employees will be offered jobs at other Barmuda venues. "we're confident we'll be able to find a place for almost everyone at our other various establishments. Anyone wanting to stay on with our companies will most likely get to," said Beck.

About Barmuda Companies: Founded in 1986, Barmuda now operates sixteen (16) restaurants, lounges and event centers including Barmuda Catering and Park Place Event Centre. Restaurants include 3 Beck's Sports Brewery locations in Waterloo and Cedar Falls; Bourbon Street Restaurant in Cedar Falls and Grinnell; Ferrari's Ristorante and Soho Sushi Bar and Deli located in Cedar Falls. Nightclubs include: Joker's Comedy Night Club, Mojo's Pizza House and Wheelhouse located in Cedar Falls. Lounges include: ICE Ultra Lounge, The Stuffed Olive and Voodoo Lounge in Cedar Falls and Grinnell.

Barmuda Companies affiliates also include Barmuda Property Development, Barmuda Distribution and Barmuda MMC, a marketing, management, and consulting company. Barmuda Companies employ approximately 550 people and is headquartered in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Additional information may be found at: www.barmuda.com.

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