A Fort Wayne comedy club that closed down -- allegedly because of a fire -- was evicted by the owner of the building that housed it, ABC21 has learned.
Acts that were booked to perform at the GutBusterz Comedy & Grille club, located on St. Joe Road, and those who had purchased tickets were notified recently that shows have been canceled.
The website for GutBusterz explained, "yes there was a fire in our building recently. No one was hurt but we're not doing shows right now and, when we come back, it won't be in the same place."
It appears the latter part of that statement is certain. Court documents show that the owner of the property leased by GutBusterz filed on May 1 for an eviction, naming Brad and Tara Gerig and their business as defendants.
Plaintiffs Snickerz Inc. and Kevin Ferguson were granted the eviction request on Tuesday.
Ferguson told ABC21 a small equipment fire did break out at the site, but that damage was not significant and that the incident was not the reason GutBusterz ceased operations. He added that the fire department was not called to the scene and sprinkler systems at the site did not activate.
In his legal claim, Ferguson notes that "on the 10th day of October, 2017, the Defendants.... became indebted to the Plaintiff in the sum of: rent of $466,736; security deposit of $2,000; estimated property taxes of $74,200; and percentage of net profits -- unknown."
The suit claimed that the defendants had failed to make monthly rental payments and that a collateral contract had also been breached.
ABC21 has left a message for the Gerigs but had not received a return call as of late Tuesday.
GutBusterz opened earlier this year in the former Snickerz location. The latter had operated out of the building for the past three decades.
UPDATE: Tuesday night, GutBusterz' owners issued a news release addressing issues raised by ABC21 in its report. That release is provided below in its entirety.
GutBusterz would like to thank our loyal customers for allowing us to entertain you these last few months. We inherited an old building with many problems, one of which caused a small electrical fire in our audio room; which the fire department did respond to. Fortunately nobody was injured but the damage to the equipment is significant enough to make it difficult to continue producing high-quality entertainment.
A recent media report suggests that GutBusterz had been evicted. This is not entirely accurate, and the statements of Kevin Ferguson further shade the truth. While an eviction case had been filed against GutBusterz, the nature of that lawsuit involves several disagreements between the parties, including the failure of Mr. Ferguson's company, Snickerz, to fulfill its business obligations as well as the actions Snickerz took to create difficulties for GutBusterz. Those failures and actions caused significant hardships for GutBusterz which contributed significantly to its decision to voluntarily return possession of the building to Snickerz on Tuesday.
It is unclear at this time if GutBusterz will reopen at a different location. We ask our fanbase to continue to support the existing comedy scene in Fort Wayne.
GutBusterz Comedy & Grille