Copia shuts its doors

Copia, the upscale food, wine and art center in downtown Napa, has shut its doors while it looks for cash to continue operations, it said Monday.

?The current economic crisis has made it difficult to obtain capital and applied additional pressure to our financial turnaround announced earlier this year,? CEO Garry McGuire said in a prepared statement.

?Temporarily suspending Copia?s operations will protect the interests of our employees by securing their wages while we negotiate a go-forward plan.?

The nonprofit center launched by the late Napa vintner Robert Mondavi has struggled to cover its costs. It laid off 24 of its 80 full-time employees in September and cut back its hours from seven days a week to three.

Copia ?is working on a significant debt restructuring and liquidity program that will allow it to continue to serve its food-and-wine education mission,? the center said Monday.

It?s unclear when the $78 million facility will reopen. Copia will release more information about its future after the Thanksgiving holiday, said Sharon Boorstin, a Los Angeles public relations executive who represents the center.

Copia, also known as the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, has lost at least $4 million a year since it opened in 2001. Earlier this year, Copia announced a reorganization aimed at putting the center on a more solid financial footing.

The plans included partnership with a real estate developer to build a mixed-use specialty retail center and four-star boutique hotel connected to the Napa River site.

Copia reduced its hours in September but kept its gardens, restaurant and gift shop open daily. At the time, the center said it would resume full operations seven days a week next June.

McGuire said he hoped to save about 50 percent of the center?s operating costs by cutting back its hours in the winter.

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