St. James transition could get litigious

Published 6:20pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

With just days remaining before Gourmet Services quits on their contract to manage the city-owned St. James Hotel, city officials are spending their time taking inventory of just what is in — or not in — the historic hotel.

Gourmet Services, the management company who is in their first year of a five-year contract to manage the hotel, has announced they will stop managing the hotel July 31.

Selma Mayor George Evans said volunteers would run the hotel for special events until another company becomes interested, and admitted he and the city attorney have looked into taking legal action with the Atlanta-based company because of their early departure.

“At the end of the day I’m real disappointed they chose to under man or under woman that hotel at this point,” Evans said Tuesday during the city council meeting, where city officials discussed Gourmet Service’s decision to shut down operation of the hotel, restaurant and bar. The hotel will remain open for special events only, using volunteers as staff. “So in my opinion, that is considered a breech of contract … at some point we may need to have to just sue them if we cant get this finalized in a real, professional way.”

Evans told the council he and city attorney Jimmy Nunn were in the process of drafting a letter to Gourmet Services about their breech of contract and would keep the council informed on any developments.

Evans said during a council meeting in May, after Gourmet Services informed the city they were leaving, that would hold the company, “accountable for preparing for the next phase of the hotel.”

Evans initially tried to get the company to stay until September, but the company refused, telling Evans there was a funding issue.

The city, in order to transition away from Gourmet Services, is taking inventory. Evans said they are looking at everything they need to run the hotel for special events with volunteers from the community once Gourmet Services has left.

“This transition consists of what’s missing, what’s there and what are the other things that need to be addressed,” Evans said. “I think we have come up with 12 items that must be addressed for a smooth transition.”

The volunteers who will work special events for organizations and parties at the hotel, and man the front desk for phone calls, are other issues according to Evans.

An ad-hoc committee has been established within the council to further drive decisions with the city-owned hotel.

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