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Clients react with shock and confusion after learning about venue closure during the pandemic

Posted at 5:38 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 20:40:42-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A Washington woman is now searching desperately for a new wedding venue after finding out the place her event was supposed to be held in about a week from now is closed. The owner of the venue says his business was shut down due to issues surrounding the pandemic, but many are coming out saying they were left in the lurch.

Don Martin, the owner of Metro Galleries, told 23ABC he had to shut down his business this year due to COVID-19. Yet just before he was scheduled to meet with 23ABC for an interview, he backed out.

Since 23ABC initially reported the issues surrounding Metro Galleries, several others have come forward to share their experiences with the venue.

Martin told 23ABC he was forced to close his doors back in March. He said he sent a letter to his clients in April. However, some of those clients are saying this is the first they’ve heard the news of Metro Galleries closure.

LaPorsha Singh first found out the venue was closed a week before she was set to get married. She was set to travel to Bakersfield this week from Washington.

After Singh spoke to 23ABC, several others reached out.

Monica Cantu said she originally booked and paid $495 for an event in April 2020 but due to the pandemic, that was postponed. Cantu said she was told by Martin in a series of text messages that she could reschedule it at any time and that even though the contract she signed states she had to use the venue within a year, Martin told her he would waive that and it would be good “forever”. Cantu said no refunds would be issued.

Cantu said she asked if June would work. That was in March.

23ABC asked Martin for copies of the emails he sent clients about the closure, as well as timestamps of when the emails were sent. He sent 23ABC a word document saying he stopped taking bookings last year as he was unsure about the future.

When asked if he had applied for any Paycheck Protection Program loans, which were established to help small businesses survive during the pandemic, Martin said he had not because he didn’t want to go more into debt. However, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, borrowers may be eligible for loan forgiveness.