West Michigan caterer, clients fall victim to COVID-19 pandemic

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GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — When Dan Sims and Brooke Baker signed with Grandville-based West Michigan Caterer back in June 2018, they had no idea they’d have to put their lives and wedding on hold two years later.

“With the COVID happening, we were told we need to change our event,” said Sims, who lives in Cadillac. “We chose an April of 2021 date, but they still wanted our deposit on our original event date.”

Sims told News 8 Monday that deposit was $10,500.

“It’s our bar package, our bartenders, our alcohol, our food, our tables, our chairs,” the 27-year-old explained.

He says they haven’t heard anything from their contact at West Michigan Catering in the last two months, and they’re not alone. Other couples have reached out to News 8 wondering what is going on with the well-known caterer, which has contracts with some of the area’s most popular wedding venues.

“They are the exclusive caterer to the venue where we are getting married at, so we didn’t really have a choice,” Sims said. “That’s why I reached out to WOOD TV, is because one: Yes, I’d like my money back, but two: I would have liked to have been notified that they were closing or there were plans of closing.”

The business located on 28th Street near Ivanrest Avenue SW is owned by Bob Johnson, a respected businessman in West Michigan.

“I made it through 9/11, made it through everything, but COVID is one thing there’s just no end in sight and I just can’t hold on at this point,” said Johnson.

He told News 8 he is devastated and feels he’s let down those who counted on him.

“This is the most horrible decision of my life, (and) I’ve been doing this my whole life,” he said.

Johnson says he is committed to making sure everyone gets their money.

“We have attorneys working on it, we have sale companies working right now, so yeah, we’re doing everything we possibly can to make sure everyone is taken care of,” he said. “I’m in an industry that has been shut down and I have no idea when or if we’re ever going to be able to reopen again.”

Johnson also owns the venerable Apartment Lounge in Grand Rapids. He says the bar is not impacted by this downfall, but losing his catering business is devastating.

“What we’re looking at right now is just getting everything sold, getting everybody taken care of and then just, that’s it. Catering is done for me at this point,” he said.

The wedding industry has been hard hit in Michigan and nationwide as the number of people allowed to attending weddings and receptions has been limited by government orders. Baker Events in Holland tried to sue the state in order to have weddings declared a religious ceremony, which would ease some restrictions. However, that lawsuit was tossed by the judge and dropped by the plaintiffs.

“We’ve all been through tough times with COVID… from the venue to the caterer to us personally, but it’s kind of a rough lot after already rescheduling our wedding. My bride thinks, ‘What else can go wrong with our wedding?’ Sims said.


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