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Venue closure leaves clients, vendors struggling

Kelly Cano, 23, and her fiancé, Marcus Martinez, 25, shortly after their engagement. They are among those affected by the closure of Noah’s Event Venue. (Courtesy of Kelly Cano)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The abrupt shuttering of a popular Albuquerque event venue following a recent bankruptcy ruling has left couples planning their weddings rushing to find new venues, and unsure whether their deposits will be refunded.

Noah’s Event Venue, a Utah-based company with locations in multiple states, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late May, according to court records. Last week, the company was ordered to immediately cease all operations – including at its Albuquerque location, near Paseo Del Norte and Eagle Ridge – after a ruling in the case. In all, 48 locations across the country were affected by the sudden ruling.

Attempts to contact staff at the Albuquerque location were unsuccessful Monday.

The closure came as a shock to many who booked events with the company, or worked alongside venue staff.

Daniel Molina and Brooke Hansen don’t expect to recoup money spent to book their wedding. (Courtesy of Brooke Hansen)

High school sweethearts Brooke Hansen and Daniel Molina made a reservation for their upcoming wedding at Noah’s Albuquerque location back in May – shortly before the company’s bankruptcy proceedings began. After the Chapter 11 filing was announced, the couple attempted to get a refund on their deposit.

According to Hansen, Noah’s staff informed the couple they were not eligible for a refund, but assured them there was no need to cancel.

In an email sent to Hansen on July 31 and provided to the Journal, a Noah’s staff member wrote: “I want to reassure you that Noah’s of Albuquerque will not be closing. … I can reassure you that your reservation is safe and Albuquerque will not be affected by the changes of the company.”

The email offered Hansen event insurance through the company for an additional fee. It is not clear whether those who purchased event insurance through Noah’s will get refunds.

Hansen said she still felt uneasy after the email, but kept her reservation since so much money had already been invested.

“A lot of our family was telling us just to cancel it,” Hansen said.

In the months since the email, Hansen said she continued to have suspicions about the company.

She and Molina made their $1,300 down payment via a credit card, but were later told that the company had trouble processing their cards and they should make their monthly payments with checks instead.

Hansen found out about the closures through a bridesmaid, and didn’t hear from Noah’s until Monday.

She said she was in shock since she had been repeatedly assured her event was safe.

Now Hansen and Molina are out $5,000 and left trying to find a venue open for their planned wedding date of Oct. 3.

Despite the troubles caused by the closure, Hansen said other local event companies have stepped up and reached out to affected brides.

“A lot of people are being put out, so it’s really nice to see that other locations are trying to help,” she said.

Kelly Cano and her fiancé, Marcus Martinez, both of Albuquerque, were also among those impacted by the bankruptcy. The couple got engaged last May and immediately started planning for a September 2020 wedding. By June, Cano and Martinez had booked the space at Noah’s.

Cano said she was not informed of Noah’s apparent financial woes – the company filed for Chapter 11 in late May – during the booking.

“They didn’t tell us anything,” she said.

Cano said she learned about the closure from the couple’s wedding officiant Friday.

“Honestly, when I first got the phone call I couldn’t believe it,” Cano said.

In the days since news of the closure broke, Cano was able to secure a new spot for her wedding, but said she already saw the impact of the closures.

“The few places that we had gone to on Saturday were saying they were getting calls left and right,” Cano said.

While Cano said she was lucky to have secured a second venue so quickly, she said she was “saddened” by the process.

Besides losing a planned venue, Cano said she is unsure whether she and Martinez will get their deposit back.

“The chances of getting our money back is pretty small,” she said.

The news of the sudden closures also impacted vendors working alongside Noah’s.

Jim Schumacher, owner of the Cooperage Restaurant, said his eatery was one of Noah’s main vendors. He said the closure came as a shock as he had around 50 events already planned at Noah’s for the rest of 2020.

“We were booked for the rest of the year, and into 2021,” Schumacher said.

Prior to the closure, Schumacher said the local operators had bragged about the number of events booked for the rest of the year.

“Not only did all of those people get hurt, but the people that were doing such a good job running the place lost their jobs,” he said.

Schumacher said there was no warning of the closure.

“I think everyone learned on Friday,” he said.

Since Friday, Schumacher has been busy calling clients who had booked catering through him. In many cases, those clients learned of Noah’s closure through him.

Schumacher estimates he will refund “well over $100,000” worth of catering deposits.

There is no official number on the events that will be canceled, but a report for the city on the viability of the proposed Route 66 Visitors Center offered some details around the volume of booking at Noah’s, noting the Albuquerque location hosts around 280 events per year.

With the closure of Noah’s, other Albuquerque event venues are seeing a surge in interest and bookings.

“We’ve actually seen a huge increase because most of the brides that tour us also tour Noah’s,” said Akshay Patel, owner of The View Event Center.

He said since Friday, his employees have given around 75 tours to couples who had previously booked with Noah’s. Many of those couples then booked his venue on the spot, which he said is “surprising.”

He said many of those who have come to his business from Noah’s told him they had lost money. Those who paid in full for their wedding reported losing around $5,000 to $6,500, according to Patel.

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