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.
?We get 75 percent of our tourists in the summer and fall,? he said in September. ?We could never bring enough people in to make it profitable.?
The center shut without notice on Friday, canceling events scheduled for the weekend and the rest of November.
Copia?s Web site said the center is temporarily closed, but December events are still listed there.
In September, Copia said it would adopt a new business model, using its food and wine experts to produce cookbooks, recipes, exhibits and courses to be taught on site, on TV, and online.
?The core business is shifting away from a museum and a discovery center and toward producing original content and distribution of food and wine knowledge,? said McGuire. ?It?s a completely new business model, but part of it stays the same.?
Copia also planned to open a 40,000- to 50,000-square-foot satellite campus in San Francisco that would include a TV studio, wine classes, wine bar and retail store.
?There are 16 million tourists a year who come through San Francisco,? McGuire said in September. ?We?re hoping we can reach them in San Francisco and share some of the food and wine education with them.?
Copia also planned to get into the tourism business, providing Wine Country educational tours from the city, he said.
In September, Copia hired Food Network celebrity chef Tyler Florence to head its culinary education program.