By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Twin Cities couples have spent the month scrambling after a popular downtown Minneapolis restaurant suddenly closed.

They paid Butcher and the Boar thousands of dollars to hold their wedding celebrations at the beer garden — and more couples are speaking out.

Kara Bakke and her fiancé were originally going to have their wedding reception at 4 Bells in Minneapolis. That restaurant near Loring Park closed in May, but with a shared ownership with Butcher and the Boar, they were told their $1,700 deposit would transfer, and they would still have a spot come November.

“A family member had texted an article on the 1st saying ‘Oh no … it’s happening to you guys again,’” Bakke said.

Then, Butcher and the Boar cited the pandemic and civil unrest for closing its doors a few weeks ago with no real warning.

“After they deactivated their email, they won’t return phone calls,” Bakke said.

She joins a growing list of brides who have reached out WCCO to say their demands for a venue rental refund have been ignored.

Arend Melby and Emily Edon paid $3,700 dollars to the restaurant to hold a reception. It will go on at Arend’s parents’ place instead.

In a statement, owner Douglas Van Winkle again told WCCO that they are “working with attorneys to come up with a resolution,” and that “it takes time, but I can assure you we are working on it. Our team will be reaching out to the guests affected by our closing.”

Pete Barry is a consumer rights lawyer.

“Essentially what you have is a breach of contract,” Barry said.

He recommends paying deposits with a credit card during the pandemic. He said it provides another avenue to dispute a charge.

“Keep in mind, you don’t have the same rights with a debit card, even if it looks like a credit card. There are different rules that apply. And you certainly don’t have those rights if you pay with cash or with a check,” Barry said.

As sorry as he is to see so many eateries close, Barry doesn’t believe buying gift cards is a good idea.

“It compounds the problem for consumers to purchase gift cards from these restaurants with the expectation that they’re going to help keep the restaurant open,” Barry said.

If you’re left with no resolution, he suggests suing through small claims court, just as Bakke has taken the steps to do.

“Do my part to not let them get away with it,” Bakke said.

All of the couples WCCO talked with have also filed complaints with the attorney general’s office. Bakke says they have found another local venue for their date in November, and they hope the third time is the charm.

Liz Collin