Bar near UCF closes over towing policy

Mad Hatter says they lost business over students being towed

ORLANDO, Fla. - A popular bar for University of Central Florida students is closed after its owners tell Local 6 it has lost too much business over the plaza's controversial towing policy.

The Mad Hatter, located in the University Commons Plaza on North Alafaya Trail, says their customers have been targeted for aggressive towing.

Kris Waide tells Local 6 his SUV was towed after leaving the bar and going home with a friend. When he came back the next day, it was gone.

"I didn't know what to do and then I saw the tow away signs," says Waide. "I didn't know they could do that."

The signs are found at the entrances to the plaza and give Constellations Towing the right to tow 24 hours a day. Even though what University Commons is doing is not illegal, its a policy that The Mad Hatter says has cost them so much business, they've had to close.

The bar posted this statement on Facebook: "As many of you know, University Commons instituted a towing policy in the Fall of 2013, which has had a severely negative effect on you, our customers, and our business. Ultimately, this unreasonable and unsafe policy which was instituted by UC has forced us into taking legal action and, as a result, the Mad Hatter will be closed until further notice."

Southern Management & Development owns the University Commons. They are based in Boca Raton and wouldn't comment, so Local 6 went to the towing company for answers.

"I swear to God I will sue the crap out of him if my face is on the news," an employee told us. She then called deputies to come to the business.

"I don't have any answers for you we're doing what we're told to do per our contract," a tow company employee said.

Waide did eventually get his SUV back for $125, but he says he won't be back
until the policy changes.

"I don't come to this place at all, to see friends, I don't eat at the restaurants,
either just because that left a bad taste in my mouth," he said.

The Mad Hatter had been open for two years.

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