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Comedy club closes due to fire, lawsuit claims failure to pay rent

FORT WAYNE - A Philadelphia comedian is frustrated after his performance in Fort Wayne was canceled last minute. Gutbusterz Comedy and Grille said they had to close down because of a fire.

Gutbusterz's currently has this message on their website under the heading "Temporarily Closed": "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. Stick around for updates. We’re working hard to fix everything and come back better than ever!"

The club, located at 5535 St. Joe Rd. at the Marketplace at Canterbury, opened in February 2018.

Philadelphia comedian Coleman Green was scheduled to perform at the club Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9. Since he already knew he was going to be in state, he booked a performance in South Bend on Tuesday, June 5. 

On Wednesday, he got an email from a Gutbusterz booker saying they were closing because of a small electrical fire and that his show was canceled. After his 10 hour drive to the Hoosier State, he was pretty upset.

"They are not obligated to pay me," he said. "Shows are canceled. I know that. I just say for good faith, they say here's a couple hundred dollars of what you were supposed to get or at least half your money for coming out to be here. I don't know what's going on there in Fort Wayne. I just happen to be the unlucky one to be caught up in the storm of them canceling because of the electrical fire."

There is a handwritten note on Gutbusterz' main entrance that says ,"Sorry, we are closed."

Tara Gerig, operator of Gutbusterz, issued the following statement to WANE-TV late Tuesday night:

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.

NewsChannel 15 also learned of a pending lawsuit filed in April against GutBusterz for breach of contract. Court documents show the Plantiff and property owner, Snickerz Inc., filed suit against GutBusterz and Brad and Tara Gerig, the Defendants. The suit states GutBusterz failed to pay more than $460-thousand dollars in back rent and other expenses.

 


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