Closure of Bigfoot BBQ forced cancelation of wedding plans for Grand Forks couple

May 25—GRAND FORKS — Andrea Peltier never wanted a wedding, but after getting engaged, she decided to step out of her comfort zone and plan one.

In July 2022, the Grand Forks woman booked an event and catering at the Ramada Inn in Grand Forks through Bigfoot BBQ, which was operating and hosting events as Bigfoot Bar and Grill in the Ramada.

But while finalizing plans in February, she was surprised to find out through social media that the business was closing. After calling the Ramada, she learned that when Bigfoot BBQ left the hotel, any events booked through the restaurant were canceled.

"My event was not even in the books," Peltier said. "If I wanted to (have an event there) I would have to repay for everything and go through their company that they were using after Bigfoot BBQ had left."

Bigfoot BBQ never reached out about its closure, Peltier said, and attempts to get a $2,000 event deposit back from the business and its owner, Ty Cox, have been unsuccessful.

Now just over a week away from her scheduled wedding in June and out $2,000, Peltier says Bigfoot BBQ's closure and a lack of communication from its owner forced her to cancel plans.

"I went out of my way to finally have a wedding that every woman deserves, and it was taken from me with no regards to my feelings," she said.

Bigfoot BBQ had been using space in the Ramada for a restaurant and events from October 2020 to February 2023.

Cox

started Bigfoot BBQ as a food truck in 2020

with business partner Matt Clark, following the bankruptcy of their restaurant What's Cooking? in Columbia Mall. Shortly after starting the food truck, in August 2020, the restaurant found a home at the East Grand Forks Eagles Club. However, by October 2020, the restaurant had moved to the Ramada.

Minnesota court documents show the Eagles Club made a claim in small claims court against Bigfoot BBQ in November 2020 for missed rent and other fees. Bigfoot was ordered to pay the Eagles Club $395 for cleaning costs and the cost of legal action, but court documents say no rent money was awarded because the claim for rent was "too speculative under these particular facts."

Cox did not respond to a call for comment before this report was published. It is unclear if Clark is still involved in the business.

While Bigfoot occupied space in the Ramada, the Ramada had no part in the scheduling of events, said hotel owner Ashok "Smiley" Thakker. All contracts were signed between customers and Bigfoot, so the Ramada cannot offer refunds for deposits or honor events scheduled through Bigfoot.

"Everything was Bigfoot BBQ — they were talking to Bigfoot BBQ online, they were writing checks to Bigfoot BBQ," Thakker said. "The Ramada had nothing to do with the banquet, lounge and restaurant. They were doing everything."

Thakker believes Bigfoot should return deposits to customers, comparing its closure to when his hotels had to cancel events because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We had maybe 50 or 60 events planned for that year, and because of COVID, all the events were canceled and we refunded every person," Thakker said. "That's the business practice — if you are closing your business, making sure that you are refunding people who paid you in advance."

The lack of communication Peltier has experienced is not unique — Thakker said other attempts to contact Cox and his wife have yielded no results.

"Some vendors came to my hotel looking for them as well — so emails, phone calls, text messages — they are not responding to anybody," Thakker said.

Meanwhile, Sai Ram, Inc., Thakker's business, is suing Bigfoot BBQ and Cox. Court documents allege Cox owes Sai Ram $20,409 in missed rent from May 2022 through February 2023.

"He owes us money," Thakker said. "He has not paid us rent that we had decided, so we are trying to collect that money."

In court documents, Cox answered the claim by Sai Ram, saying the amount of rent Thakker claims Bigfoot owes is based on an unsigned agreement. He also alleges that kitchen facilities needed repair, which is why Bigfoot left the Ramada.

Cox wrote in court documents that he is building a lawsuit against Sai Ram, Inc. for over-payment, renter rights violations, slander, defamation and breach of privacy laws.

Peltier herself is considering taking legal action against Bigfoot and Cox. The North Dakota Attorney General's Office is helping her mediate communication with Bigfoot, but if the business does not answer, she may hire an attorney to try to get her deposit back. For now, she plans to wait for a response from Bigfoot.

"Honestly, realistically, I don't think I'm going to get it," Peltier said. "I just want people to know that I don't have a wedding anymore, and it's supposed to be in two weeks — I fully had to cancel and that really breaks my heart because I have so much money already put into this."