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Nov 24, 2008 04:15 PM

Copia closes its doors?

The news said Copia closed its doors today temporarily. They are 'hoping' to reopen next month. Advice was to check the website which doesn't have much info except the Novermber calendar showing it is closed thru the end of the month. So far the December calendar looks unchanged.

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  1. Yep, they're 72 million in the red and just filed bankruptcy.

    1. Wow!!! That sucks, but is not surprising; given how many identity crises the place went thru. We charge-we don't charge; our mission is this- our mission is that; We're about education-we're about info-tainment. Is Julia's Kitchen still open, or is the whole place "temporarily" closed? We all know what temporarily means.....Adam

      6 Replies
      1. re: adamshoe

        Does this mean you are interested in taking over the operation? I can hardly wait!

        1. re: Scott M

          You betcha!! Just wire me that $72,000,000 and we'll talk. ;) The last 4 digits of my social are....(aack, cough, sputter, dying sounds....) Adam

          1. re: adamshoe

            You don't pay off the existing debt. You just lease the building and turn it into a Napa Zax or just call it Zapa.

        2. re: adamshoe


          The reasons you cited aren't the reasons that Copia is $78M in debt. The things you cite contributed to a lack of marketing focus, but Copia was financially and conceptually mismanaged before it ever opened.


          1. re: maria lorraine

            Why are we not surprised?? I realize I may be a pessimistic curmudgeon, but I commented upon its opening that it wouldn't make it. Went to an olive oil tasting in Sonoma years ago, cost $15.00 to go in and pay to taste olive oil. Somehow, this philosophy doesn't work, even on tourists.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              No kidding. It's hard to see where $78 million went!

          2. Maybe the "slow food" organization could be next...(he thought, hopefully, yet slowly.) ;)

            2 Replies
            1. re: adamshoe

              Maybe fastfood can save them. How About McDonalds or Burger King?

              1. re: leoj

                It'd be easy enough for them to install a drive-thru window. Julia's Out The Window; Just speak into the replica of Julia's head to place your order. "Bon Appetite" indeed... Adam

            2. I believe it was reported months ago that they were trying to sell their physical assets and move the educational functions to San Francisco.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Xiao Yang

                Yes, I knew they were taking steps to do something. It sounds like this shutdown was rather abrupt based on it making the 5pm local news. It sounds like they are in flux since the advice was to keep an eye on the website.

                It is too bad. Though I was underwhelmed on my visit last year, I think a lot of people would have liked the concept of Copia. It just wasn't executed well it seems.

                Despite that. If they don't open up again, I hope some intelligent decisions will be made about a few things.

                They have this really good exhibit that interviews people from all around the world and their family story about coming to California ... whether it was ten years ago or five generations ago. I would hope they entrust that to some sort of library to preserve it.

                I hope they do something with the garden other than plow it under.

              2. Copia's business plan is a disaster and this has been in the press for 6 months, so no surprise to most of us.

                14 Replies
                1. re: SFguy

                  Napa Valley locals knew the museum was in trouble shortly after it opened.

                  $12.50 admission for that?? Estimated attendance of 500K when 100K was more like it?

                  An elitist attitude when food = hospitality = warmth = a wide embrace of humanity??
                  There's an "unclear on the concept." A true disconnect between subject and spirit.

                  $13M of overhead before they made their first dollar every year?
                  That's financial recklessness.

                  Now, Copia is $78M in debt. Last year, when Copia was in trouble and $67M in debt, the bond was refinanced by I-Bank and $10M in bonds was added. However, Copia also had a $14M deficit at the time. It was thought that the additional $10M would help Copia recover. You can do the math as to the total liability.

                  How will Copia retire this? There's no way the building or the property can generate that capital. Sadly, it may be the taxpayers who are saddled with this debt.

                  Even if a hotel, which Napa does not need and cannot support the occupancy thereof), would be intereted in the property, the sale price wouldn't cover a tenth of the amount owed.

                  As far as Copia's move to SF goes, how are they going to fund THAT? Who would lend them the money?

                  On a personal note, it saddens me that the museum has nothing of the specialness that characterizes the great food and wine museums of the world. The founders didn't research what made other food and wine museums successful -- I asked.

                  It's sad on so many levels. There were so many errors made.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    Slightly off topic: an interesting read- "The House of Mondavi" includes a little bit about the naissance of Copia. A good and trashy (but not too...) Beach Read kinda book.... Adam

                    1. re: adamshoe

                      Since the naissance was n'est pas, what word would you use now?

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        Perhaps "nonaissance" N'est ce pas ?? Adam

                    2. re: maria lorraine

                      wasnt there some sleazy tax angle and/or tax fraud involved?
                      i dont rmember the details and it wasnt as eggregious as the
                      james beard foundation chicanery, but i vaguely remember
                      reading something that seemed to make some pretty concrete
                      claims rather than vague aspersions, eventhough that's all that's
                      left in my brain.

                        1. re: psb

                          They were fined $224,000 for using more than the allowable amount of space for business (sales) activities. Scroll down to "Busted by the IRS":


                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            XY is on it.

                            The SacBee (articles XY has linked to) has really investigated this. The Napa Register has as well, but not as rigorously.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              beyond that, anything questionalble about the initial
                              giant mondavi donation, which i assume was tax advataged?
                              i'm not suggesting that had an illegal component or rose
                              to the level of the $150million t boone pickens-oaklahoma
                              golf scam, or the billion dollar scam that is known as IKEA,
                              or the HHMI tax dodge, but again, i thought there was something
                              sketchy about it ... although maybe it was still at pretty typical
                              level of questionableness [in term of the goals of the organization
                              donated to, the valuation of non-cash donations, other terms etc].

                              [i havent read that mondavi inc. history book, but i have an
                              amateur interest in tax loopholes. per david cay johnston's work etc].

                              1. re: psb

                                I can't speak to any supposed inpropriety of the initial Mondavi donation. I don't have any info about the nature, or legal underpinnings, of the donation, though I imagine the SacBee or other insiders do.

                        2. re: maria lorraine

                          "How will Copia retire this? There's no way the building or the property can generate that capital. Sadly, it may be the taxpayers who are saddled with this debt."

                          That's not how bonds work. Whatever isn't recovered through the liquidation of assets and payment by the bond insurer is lost. The people who bought the bonds assumed that risk, not taxpayers.

                          1. re: PorkButt

                            <<The people who bought the bonds assumed that risk, not taxpayers.>>

                            Taxpayers could indeed be on the hook for this.

                            That's because, in this case, the people who bought the bonds WERE the taxpayers. The bank issuing the bonds -- the Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, or I-Bank -- is owned by the State of California. How much debt California taxpayers will be stuck with is unknown.

                            "Though I-Bank claims that as a third party it is not liable for the bonds that bear its name, a Bee investigation found that if the bond insurer fails and Copia ultimately defaults, I-Bank – and California taxpayers – could at a minimum be stuck with some big legal bills as the finances are sorted out."

                            Info source: Sacramento Bee

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              Sure, those taxpayers who bought the bonds face significant losses. I interpreted your statement as meaning that CA taxpayers in general may be liable for the principal.

                              As your quote states, the I-Bank could face litigation. That will likely happen even if the bond insurer pays out because someone will claim that the bank acted in bad faith in marketing the bonds or something similar and that almost never gets upheld because bonds come with a third-party risk rating. But what's a "big legal [bill]'? Considering what the ultimate payout could be compared to say, judgements from dot-com analyst litigation, it won't be that much.

                              The Sac Bee reporter is putting out the armageddon scenario and some hyperbole. As someone who trades bonds, a $70m issue is really peanuts to a bond insurer. But who knows, the insurer could have exposure to mortgage backed securties.