Bojana Railic thought she had a venue for her prekindergarten and kindergarten graduation ceremonies in May.
But the abrupt closure of Noah’s Event Venue, 175 E. Main St. in New Albany, left the owner of AcademyOne Childcare & Preschool at 10102 Woodcrest Way and at 5893 Preserve Blvd. looking for another option.
The nationwide event- and wedding-venue chain was closed the morning of Feb. 10. The company had filed for bankruptcy last May and had closed all its venues over the weekend of Feb. 8, including New Albany’s, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
A bankruptcy judge in Utah, where the company is based, on Feb. 6 ordered the Noah’s closures, the Dispatch reported. Noah’s had 34 venues in 20 states, including in New Albany and three other sites in Ohio, according to the Dispatch.
The closure leaves New Albany with a handful of remaining event venues, according to Cherie Nelson, director of the New Albany Chamber of Commerce.
They include the Estate at New Albany, the New Albany Country Club and the New Albany Links Golf Club, she said.
Just outside city limits, Jorgensen Farms has its historic barn at 5851 E. Walnut St. and Oak Grove venue at 7500 Harlem Road, she said.
Railic said she had been working with Noah’s to schedule two ceremonies for each of her schools, she said.
She had scheduled a meeting with the venue Feb. 5 but got a text message from Noah’s staff members requesting to reschedule for Feb. 7, she said.
When Railic showed up at Noah’s for her meeting, no one was there, she said, and the doors were closed. No one answered her calls, she said.
Now, she is still looking for an alternative venue, she said.
“We’re still trying to figure this out,” Railic said.
Others have shared stories about being left in a lurch by the Noah’s closure.
Erin Flynn, founder and CEO of New Albany-based Clover Lindsay Consulting, said she primarily works with small nonprofit organizations.
She said one of her clients, the Westerville-based Crawford Crew, is searching for another location for its 10-year anniversary gala.
In October, the Crawford Crew board members approved a $3,000 deposit to Noah’s for the anniversary event in May, Flynn said.
But after hearing from a friend that Noah’s parent company was in bankruptcy, Flynn said, she shared the knowledge with the Crawford Crew, which is dedicated to fighting HPV-related cancers.
“It raised a red flag,” she said.
After contacting Noah’s, the nonprofit was told that each event center had its own investors and there would be no issue, Flynn said.
“We took that on good faith,” she said.
The Crawford Crew sent out save-the-date invitations and looked into event sponsors until the organization received an email that Noah’s venues were closing, Flynn said.
The nonprofit plans to file an administrative claim for its paid deposit, but it expects to receive less than the original amount, she said.
As of Feb. 13, the Crawford Crew still was searching for a location for its event, Flynn said.
“It’s really unfortunate,” she said.
Other event venues have felt the effects of the Noah’s closure.
Kristen Pulcheon, director of the Estate at New Albany, 5216 Forest Drive, said since Feb. 8, the Estate has received walk-in visits, calls, emails and Facebook messages from people looking to find a venue for their events originally scheduled at Noah’s.
“They’re contacting us through every avenue,” she said.
Pulcheon said she has enjoyed seeing the outpouring of support the Columbus wedding industry has provided to those in need.
The Estate has been joined by several other central Ohio wedding venues that have offered discounts to couples affected by the Noah’s closure. They include the Annex at 801, Magnolia Hill Farm, Via Vecchia Winery, and the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, according to the Dispatch.
Although the Estate would be an easy switch for Noah’s patrons, Pulcheon said, prospective schedulers are dealing with limited date availability.
She said she has been pointing people to the Estate’s other two venues in central Ohio: Brookshire at 405 Greif Parkway in Delaware and WatersEdge Event & Conference Center at 4643 Trueman Blvd. in Hilliard.
“We want to do everything we can to help them still have the wedding of their dreams,” Pulcheon said.
Like Pulcheon, Nelson said the chamber has heard from a few Noah’s customers since the event venue’s closure.
People are disappointed, she said.
“Imagine touring a facility, signing a contract and making a sizable deposit only to find out unexpectedly it’s not going to happen,” Nelson said.
There’s a chance Noah’s clients might not get their deposits back, Nelson said.
“Our heart goes out to those people who are often brides planning one of the most important days of their lives,” she said.
With the absence of Noah’s, Nelson said, New Albany “definitely (has) space” for another event venue.