Robert Mondavi project lost millions since 2001

  • The Copia Center which houses the new restaurant The Bistro @ Copia in Napa during its first day of operation on Thursday May 22, 2008. The were open but still in the process of setting up as they will soon add art and a flat screen to the wall behind the counter. Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat

Copia, the Napa food and wine center launched by wine legend Robert Mondavi, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, saying it plans to reorganize and reopen with an emergency $2 million infusion of cash.

"The decision to restructure the business through a Chapter 11 filing should provide us with the opportunity to strengthen our balance sheet," Copia CEO Garry McGuire said in a statement.

Also known as the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, Copia shut its doors Nov. 21 after it ran short of cash. The filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Rosa will allow Copia to pay employees and vendors while it restructures its operations, McGuire said.

Copia has secured $2 million in financing to supplement its working capital, he said.

But it's unclear when the $78 million center will reopen. Copia's announcement said it will take six months for the restructuring "to achieve profitability and long-term sustainability."

The source of Copia's new financing wasn't disclosed, and center officials couldn't be reached for further comment Monday.

The nonprofit organization has lost at least $4 million every year since opening in 2001 in downtown Napa. Copia laid off 24 of its 80 full-time employees in September and cut its hours from seven days a week to three.

Earlier this year, Copia announced a reorganization aimed at putting the center on a firm 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 also plans to sell its First Street location and lease back space for its programs.

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