The Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center.

WATERLOO — The former operator of the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center and Ramada Hotel has been sued over unpaid food service bills.

Martin Brothers Distributing Co. of Cedar Falls has filed a petition in Black Hawk County District Court seeking to recover more than $118,000 in unpaid invoices from LK Waterloo, doing business as Leslie Hospitality.

The suit filed Oct. 17 also seeks interest on the overdue account, which has bills dating back to March, and attorneys fees.

Leslie Hospitality had been managing the downtown hotel and convention center since early 2017 under a purchase agreement with the hotel owner, Watermark Hotel Equities, and had a separate development agreement with the city to buy and renovate the convention center.

Watermark’s Luke Castrogiovanni, of Oak Lawn, Ill., regained management authority of the hotel earlier this month after the city sent notice it was not receiving lease payments owed for convention center events.

Castrogiovanni said the hotel purchase agreement is void and claimed Leslie Hospitality has left the hotel saddled with unpaid debts.

Leslie Hospitality had not filed a response to the Martin Brothers lawsuit by Thursday.

But company president Edwin Leslie previously claimed actions by past and present Waterloo City Council members had undermined his ability to get financing for what was to be an estimated $20 million overhaul of the hotel and convention center.

Council members had approved development agreements in July and August 2017, which would donate the city-owned convention center and provide grants and tax rebates in return for the renovation of both buildings.

Leslie was never able to secure the necessary financing to close on the sale, so the city still owns the convention center and Leslie Hospitality has not received any incentives.

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