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PLEASANT GROVE — Jane Robinson was saddened when she learned NOAH’s Event Center in South Jordan was closing, leaving customers out of money and a venue for their weddings or other events.
The Lehi-based company that owned the facility was shut down last week amid its bankruptcy process after a judge determined there wasn’t enough evidence the company could recover from its financial woes.
On paper, it may seem a bit odd that Robinson would feel sorrow about that news. She’s the owner of The Bungalow reception center in Pleasant Grove, which competed against NOAH’s for wedding and event services since NOAH’s opened in 2003; however, that’s not how she saw it.
“We wanted everyone to succeed,” she told KSL.com on Tuesday.
As the news trickled out, she thought of the community that helped her business when it opened 48 years ago. Neighbors helped bake the food for the first event The Bungalow held. Nearly five decades later, she wants to pay it forward for the couples jilted by NOAH’s abrupt closure.
Robinson is one of a few business owners seeking to help those out of a venue for their weddings. For example, her company says it will waive its deposit fees for those affected by the closure.
Owners of the Azalea Event Venue, which is located in South Jordan, also have begun working with clients affected by last week’s news. In addition, Emily Frame, owner of State House event venue in Orem, said her venue will discount any cost paid to NOAH’s from the booking fees at her company’s venue for all customers who can show proof of the money lost.
Officials at Ember, a venue in Salt Lake City, also stated it will offer discounted rates for couples affected by the closure.
A former employee of NOAH’s contacted KSL on Monday to say they are trying to purchase the South Jordan event center and possibly help those who had events planned there still have their event at the facility.
“At the end of the day, we’re here and we’re ready and willing to help those individuals out,” said Nik Anderson, who co-owns Azalea Event Venue with his wife, Kyrstin.
It’s still unclear how many people were directly affected by the South Jordan NOAH’s Event Center closing since the company didn’t disclose that data. During its bankruptcy hearing Thursday, a company official said it still had 2,800 events planned nationwide. Individuals paid about $7.1 million in advance for those events, which means the average customer lost more than $2,500.
An attorney for the company said Tuesday at least 200 employees were also laid off from its 28 locations across the country.
Jody Powell is among the Utahns out of a venue and the money she deposited. She had paid $3,600 and believed she was all set having the South Jordan venue booked for her wedding planned for October. She was upset to find out the venue was closed and she was likely out of the money paid.
"What are we supposed to do? This is the biggest day of our lives,” she said, during an interview with KSL TV on Monday. “I don’t know what to do now we have to start over.”
The Andersons said they had already fielded calls from more than a dozen clients in similar situations, as of Monday night. They were able to accommodate three couples with discounts at their venue, they said.
“We are trying to pass on those savings as much as possible so that they have as little left to pay to get everything that they were hoping for,” Kyrstin Anderson said.
Robinson feels the same way. She wanted to waive fees to help couples frantically searching for a new venue not because of business, but because she knows it’s helping couples in the community.
Since she has been in the industry for 48 years, she’s seen and experienced the highs and lows of it. She also knows what matters the most about the events her company holds.
“In the long run, it’s not what money buys on a reception night. It’s the warmth and the joy of bringing people together that love these families enough to give their time,” she said. “I feel for the anxiety of someone that has no place to go and no plan B.”
Utah event companies who have pledged to help affected NOAH's customers with major discounts or waived fees include:
- The Azalea Event Venue, which can be reached at 801-820-4360.
- The Bungalow, which can be reached by emailing email@example.com or by calling 801-785-2111.
- Ember, which can be reached by calling 385-355-4211.
- Salt Mine Productive Workspace in Draper, which can be reached by calling 801-432-8275.
- State House, which can be reached by calling or texting 385-350-0072 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Walker Farms in Lindon, which can be reached by emailing email@example.com.
Contributing: Ashley Moser, KSL TV