Uptown venue shutters unexpectedly, leaving many without a wedding spot

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CharlotteFive archives

Popular turnkey wedding venue The Assembly Room, located in The Foundry in Uptown’s Third Ward, abruptly closed last week, leaving brides and grooms scrambling to find new wedding venues.

Evan Roberts, one of the brides affected by the closure, posted about it in the Facebook group Charlotte Wedding Connection seeking recommendations for a new venue. Multiple planners commented saying they, too, had clients facing the same issue.

When CharlotteFive summited a public records request for information about possible city code violations at the venue, a Charlotte Fire Department Fire Prevention Bureau official said the location was never approved as a place of assembly, just as one for business occupancy.

A bureau representative said that in 2014, the Charlotte Fire Department was made aware of a large event planned for the lobby area. At the time, the owners were notified that the location was not suitable or approved for events. That particular event was not allowed to occur.

Because of N.C. General Statutes, the building only has to be inspected every three years, so the next inspection took place in October 2018. During that inspection, the new owners mentioned the lobby area being used for wedding. They were told then to contact Mecklenburg County to obtain a change-of-use permit, otherwise the location could not be used for such large-scale events. In November 2018, the bureau said they advised all parties involved — the Foundry owners and The Assembly Room leasees — that they could not hold events in the space.

On Dec. 4, the bureau said the fire department, again, informed the owners no events were allowed to take place in the venue until the change of use was completed and any changes were made to the building to accommodate events.

Roberts, however, was allowed to book her wedding at The Assembly Room — after the fire department notified the owners multiple times of the issue. Roberts and her fiance, Mike Fulkerson, booked the space on Dec. 10, 2018, for their nuptials on Oct. 19. At the time of booking, Roberts told CharlotteFive no issues were raised about the size of their 100-person wedding in relation to the venue’s capacity. In fact, The Foundry’s website clearly states The Assembly Room can hold up to 150 people.

A snapshot of The Assembly Room Charlotte’s web site as it appeared on Jan 20, 2019. In this version of the site, it states that The Assembly Room can hold 200 guests. The web site has since been taken down.

Because the couple is planning their Charlotte wedding while living in Florida, Roberts reached out to The Assembly Room on Jan. 23 to see if they could do a walkthrough with their wedding coordinator in February. Bethany Brown, The Assembly Room’s venue concierge, confirmed on Jan. 28 that they could come on Feb. 15, Roberts said.  

Only a few days later, Roberts said her wedding coordinator found out about the venue’s closure and called her to let her know the bad news: The Assembly Room had been shut down on Jan. 31. Someone from The Assembly Room called Roberts on Feb. 1. “I didn’t catch her name,” Roberts said. “All she said was, ‘We found out that we’re closing. We’re closed, and your wedding is canceled.’”

Since then, Roberts has been trying to find a new location, but she hasn’t had any luck. “We have not been able to find anything yet,” she said. Not only is October an incredibly popular month for weddings in Charlotte, but Roberts and Fulkerson had also secured most of their other vendors when the venue closed. “The issue is we have our photographer, our D.J. and food. We’ve paid deposits on all of those and have the date set.”

Roberts said they booked the Tin Kitchen food truck for the wedding. If she cancels the food truck, she’ll lose her $1,000 deposit, but a lot of the venues still available at this time require onsite catering.

Groom-to-be Sean Clark-Weiss said in order to move to a new venue, he had to change his wedding date from Nov. 16 to Nov. 17 and cancel his original caterer. Although his caterer refunded his deposit and he’s thankful the date change wasn’t more of a shift, he said it was incredibly stressful to look for a new venue.

“They called my fiancee around 4:30 last Friday and said due to some city ordinances, that they wouldn’t be able to host events for any party bigger than 49 people,” he said. “We had a contract with them, so it all just seemed abrupt.” Clark-Weiss said he’s going to have 100 to 115 people at his wedding.

Wedding planner Kayla Goldstein, who owns Clockwork Events & Design, said the venue called her and her bride to let them know about the closure. When Goldstein followed up with the venue, a representative told her the city had shut them down due to fire code violations and that the owner of the Foundry building was not willing to bring it up to code to accommodate what The Assembly Room owners were hoping to do with the space.

Goldstein feels her situation is less dire. Her client doesn’t get married until Jan. 4, 2020, and she has been working with the people at The Assembly Room to find a new location for that wedding. They’ve been calling venues for them and coordinating meetings and walkthroughs. “I have no ill will toward them and neither does my client,” she said. “I’ve had a great working relationship with them, but I can understand from a bride’s perspective how this would be daunting.”

Roberts, Goldstein and Clark-Weiss all said The Assembly Room refunded the deposits they or their client put down to book the venue. “My thing is, you have all these brides who book dates,” Roberts said. “You have $3,000 from each of them. Why didn’t you take that $3,000 to fix what needed to be fixed?”

Roberts said she’s extremely disappointed about how everything has turned out. She and her fiance chose The Assembly Room because it was a low key place to get married. “We’re a pretty relaxed couple, and now we’re looking at venues that are formal, sit-down places,” she said, adding that they might look at Camp North End or McGill Rose Garden as other low-key alternatives.

Attempts to reach The Assembly Room were not successful. The venue’s website and Instagram have been taken down.

35 COMMENTS

  1. HI Beth,

    We were just reading this article and saddened by what the engaged couples are having to go through…
    I would like to offer a suggestion for a venue, for them. We call it the Conroy Building, here in The Gold District. It is 1 block West of Mint-street and just barely 1 mile from uptown. They have renovated the upper portion to accommodate weddings and various events. Currently, Hallmark is filming a movie there.

    Have them reach out to Mike at (704) 358-0459
    501 Penman St, Charlotte, NC 28203

    Best regards,

    Randolph Gareth James
    Founder & Principal at Magnolia Emporium

    Board of Directors, The Gold District, 501(c)(4)
    President – Artists Music Guild, 501(c)(3)

    • Beth,

      Thank you for the article, I too was duped by The Assembly Room. I am lucky that I was not the bride who they canceled on two days before her wedding. However, I am left to scramble with only 6 months left to plan. This has left me devastated and extremely stressed. Planning a wedding is already stressful enough. My fiancé was given a blanket statement from them when they called him to say it was canceled. Reading this article just enrages me more, especially now knowing they were already told they could not hold events all the back in 2014. I am left speechless.

        • Hi Beth, I am a bride as well. I would love to discuss our experience! I’m not sure I can read the article because of how angry I am! But my fiancé has read it and given me the info! Thanks for covering!

          • Hi Emily,
            I am so sorry to hear about your venue! My name is Blair Propert and I work at The Westin Charlotte Hotel, we recently just open a brand new inside/ outside venue (SixOneFive Venue) and we would love to help you if possible! I would love to speak with you, please feel free to give me a call at 704-335-2023.
            I look forward to hearing from you soon,
            Blair Propert

  2. I also received the same call from an unknown Assembly Room employee to cancel our November wedding, late last Friday afternoon. We are now going to start the whole process over and wait until spring 2020 to get married. It’s crazy that these permit issues were fully ignored, especially with how popular and expensive the space was. Did “Relish Carolina”, the owners, have anything to say for this fail of a project?

    • Hi Madison, if you are still in need of a venue, the Crowne Plaza Charlotte has 3 beautiful ballrooms that can be transformed into your dream wedding. Let us know if we can help! 704-676-5806

    • Hi Madison,
      I am so sorry to hear about your venue!
      The Westin Charlotte Hotel just opened a brand new inside/outside Venue (SixOneFive) and we would love to try and assist you in anyway possible.
      Please feel free to call my direct line 704-335-2023 as I would love to chat with you about your special day!
      I look forward to hearing from you soon,
      Blair Propert

  3. Everyone that is scrambling right now should consider suing them for breach of contract, especially if you incur additional expenses due to changing the date.

    A couple venue ideas not already suggested: the Whitehead Manor, CenterStage@noda, the Bottle Factory in Monroe, The 1932 Barn, park sites on Lake Wylie, or even a brewery. Resident Culture has a pretty large room that could probably be rented out.

  4. “…the owners were notified that the location was not suitable or approved for events.” So the event space was never approved for EVENTS? Why would they continue to book events there for the next five years? Wow… all of this could have been prevented if they took action after their inspection.

  5. I feel badly for the couples that have had to go through this kind of thing. I hope everyone received their deposits back. Shame on the owners for stringing people along, knowing full well that they had been told they could not use the space in that capacity.

  6. My fiancé and I fell in love with this venue and booked it immediately after our visit in October. I’m heart broken with the news and every venue that we are slightly interested is booked. I got the news from my wedding coordinator on Friday, didn’t get a call from them until Monday after trying to contact them many times. This has been a HUGE step back and I would like to know if anyone is taking any legal actions against them. The fact that they never had a permit but were still taking our money and signing a contract makes me even more furious.

    • Hi Isabella,
      I am so sorry about your venue!
      I apologize this happen to your and your fiancé. I would love to try and assist you in anyway possible. The Westin Charlotte did just open a brand new inside/outside venue (SixOneFive Venue) that we would love to chat with you about if you have some time this week? Again we would love to assist you in anyway possible. Please feel free to call my direct line 704-335-2023.
      I look forward to hearing from you soon,
      Blair Propert

  7. I am also one of the bride’s that was impacted for this venue as well. We visited one and only one venue being the Assembly Room back in August 2018 and I said if I loved it as much as I did on the pictures on social media, we were booking it and going no where else. I fell and love contract was signed. The Assembly Room reached out to us 53 days prior to our wedding date letting us know we could not get married in the space due to failing fire inspection and renovations would not be complete by March, there would be a small chance but it was up to us if we wanted to take the chance. They mentioned they had just found out about this a day prior to telling us, now finding out the venue had known for several weeks prior to telling us. We opted not to and have since been returned our security deposit. Like other brides, we already had everything planned, invitations sent out, guests purchased plane tickets and we were left to start all over from the beginning thus incurring more costs and most venues open on our date were not the same vision and wouldn’t welcome some of our vendors. We lost money on 1 contract, luckily we were 7 days within losing money on another contract, but the amount we have to pay to get appropriate vendors in our new venue has tripled our budget and cost. I am thankful I had 53 days to replan a wedding that I had planned 5 months and I feel terrible for the brides that were told 7 days prior to their date.

    • Hi Amy,
      I can’t imagine having to plan your wedding all over again in only 53 days! I’m lucky I have more time than you! I also fell in love with the assembly room and it was the only venue we saw.

      After everything fell apart, I’ve been looking for a venue that has a similar feel to it and came across this one.
      https://www.theprovidencecottonmill.com/ . Unfortunately they don’t have my date, but maybe you’ll be lucky! I know they have a lot of Sundays available, if you are open to it. It’s really pretty!

      • We actually found a venue thankfully, honestly just signed the contract this morning. We did everything we could to not change our date as many of our guests from out of town already had plane tickets since we sent out our invitations in December, we wanted to make sure people had ample time to find tickets before it was too pricey! I love the new venue but it is completely opposite feel from the Assembly Room so we have literally had to start all over, break 2 contracts with other vendors as we couldn’t bring them with us to the new venue. Could we have changed the date, yes but I wasn’t willing to force extra costs on our guests, so we incurred extra costs to find a venue with availability on the same date!

  8. This is horrible. Brides can check out Noah’s Event Venue. Off Tyvola near the airport but a different type of venue with a lot included.

  9. All these venues chiming in, reminds me watching animal planet when they showed a pack of jackals stalking the wounded antelope. They just waited him out to eat an easy meal.

    • I have been meaning to say that — on how all of as sudden all these businesses are getting free plug from Charlotte 5 without having them being a “partner” or paying for an “Ultimate Guide to Your Wedding Venues” post, but didn’t want to come out as being callous or insensitive to the misfortunes of those that were affected by this closure, which I’m sure someone priggish would’ve responded.

      • Wedding Planners, Venue Managers are on the same level as used car salesman and ambulance chasing lawyers. If they cant get an extra buck out of you they will.

        Also I think we are at a record number of “Im sorry” responses.

  10. Hi Brides and Grooms,
    We are so sorry this happen to you! The Westin Charlotte did just open it’s brand new SixOneFive Venue (Inside/ outside Terrace) and we would love to assist you all in anyway possible!
    Please feel free to reach out to me directly at #704-335-2023 or blair.propert@marriott.com as we do have dates open throughout the year.
    Blair Propert

  11. Go look at the Instagram for The Foundry. They recently posted a photo of the former Assembly Room space. Someone left a comment last week offering their opinion that it wasn’t exactly a good move to throw the image in the face of the brides and grooms scrambling to find a new venue. The Foundry quickly deleted those comments. How can they expect to earn any respect as a place of business if they simply run away from these problems? Not a good look.

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