CLEVELAND - The sudden closing of Sammy's, one of Cleveland's well-known restaurant and catering operations, has left some local brides scrambling to find a new location for their receptions.
Shaunda Sharp, of Cleveland, contacted NewsChannel5 hours after she found the doors locked at Sammy's West 10th Street location.
Sharp told 5 On Your Side she was trying to make another payment on her reception and had already given Sammy's thousands of dollars.
"I am very upset. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest," said Sharp. "I feel like Sammy's committed a white collar crime. I mean, they knew they were in financial trouble, yet they took my money. I feel like it was robbed."
Sharp told NewsChannel5 she tried numerous times to contact Sammy's for answers, but none of her phone calls have been returned.
So far, the company has only released the following statement on its website:
"On August 5, 2013, City Life Inc. d/b/a Sammy's announced it has made the decision to close its facilities. We are currently in negotiations with a local caterer to transition our existing clients. Existing clients can use TRANSITIONPLAN@sammys.com for updates."
NewsChannel5 has made several calls to Sammy's headquarters in search of additional information, but none of the calls have been returned.
The August 5 announcement has also had an impact on operations at Cleveland's Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, which signed a catering contract with Sammy's in 2012.
Church council president Niko Semertsidis told NewsChannel5 the church made $75,000 in upgrades to its banquet hall in an effort to fulfill its catering contract with Sammy's.
Semertsidis reports Sammy's is nearly $15,000 behind in rent payments, a loss of revenue that will likely hurt church youth programs.
"It's going to affect some of our programs, our camp program. We send the kids to camp," explained Semertsidis. "It's going to affect the perception of people wanting to rent the hall. They're not going to know if they're going to have a caterer that's going to be there for them."
The church also reports it has received no contact from Sammy's management about the future of its contract.
The decision by Sammy's to close all restaurants and catering operations has left other northeast Ohio caterers working to pick up the slack.
"They were a formidable company so this comes a bit of a shock," said Charles Klass, vice president at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven. "Sammy's has been around for a long time and were almost an institution in the catering business along with us."
Klass said they've received several calls and are already working to help a bride whose wedding is this weekend.
"We're trying to work with them, maybe revise the menu a little bit and do what we can so that they can still fit into whatever budget they have."
NewsChannel5 talked with two Sammy's employees who have now lost their jobs. The employees did not want to be identified, but told 5 On Your Side that all brides will be contacted and will be taken care of.
Meanwhile, Sharp reports she is still waiting for a response to her phone calls.
"I don't know anymore. I've tried countless times," said Sharp. "No response. It's unprofessional to say the least."
Newsnet5.com and NewsChannel5 will keep you updated on this developing story.