Banquet hall closes, clients left hanging

December 19, 2011 3:21:00 PM PST
A popular Chicago banquet hall has shut its doors, leaving many clients out in the cold with unanswered questions.

Leaders of a South Side church say they are out hundreds of dollars after Harambee banquet hall closed. Several other groups and organizations are scrambling to find last minute locations for their events. It appears that a dispute over the venue's city licensing may have prompted the shutdown.

The Myers had outfits for daughter Jada's sweet 16 party and accessories were to be in her favorite color.

"I was going to wear pink eye shadow, pink lipstick, pink earrings, pink shoes -- everything pink," Jada Long said.

But over the weekend the family learned that their event facility, Harambee House, was closed. Jada's grandmother, Twanda Phillips, paid $2,000 for the party.

"I don't like the idea of asking questions and can't get them, especially when you've taken my money well in advance. I had plenty of time to be notified if things like this was happening. It's not good," said Phillips.

"I'm very disappointed because I was looking forward to having her sweet 16 party," said Yvonne myers, Jada's mother.

On Sunday, a local pastor said he had a Christmas celebration planned at Harambee House. He arrived to find the facility closed.

"We still had about a hundred cars and 150 people from our group and another group that really didn't know anything about the banquet facility being closed until we got here," said Pastor Seals, Travelers Rest Baptist Church.

The city of Chicago's law department spokesman says a cease and desist operations order was issued for Harambee House for not having a liquor license nor a public place of amusement.

Kenneth Lewis says in a statement he has operated Harambee House with the same license for 11 years. Lewis owns other well known restaurants in Chicago and the suburbs. Lewis says anyone with events impacted by the closure will get a refund or alternate event arrangements will be made. He also acknowledges being behind on rent.

While the business operator and the city work out their differences, those with events planned at Harambee House are on hold.

"I think that if they knew this was going on they should have let people know instead of just have people thinking that they were going do something...to celebrate something and now it's all canceled," said Jada Long.


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