Brooklyn Venue Suddenly Closes, Screws Over 200 Couples

reBar, a popular bar and restaurant in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood, suddenly shut down on Friday amid claims of bankruptcy, stranding as many as 200 couples who'd paid tens of thousands of dollars in wedding deposits.

Friday morning, employees woke to an email from reBar owner Jason Stevens: "Rebar is bankrupt and closed. Please dispose of your keys and do not enter the premises. Please forward to any staff not included." A similar note was posted to the front of the bar.

One worker told Gothamist that the unexpected notice came on a payday, leaving many workers without compensation for two weeks' worth of work. From the email sent to Gothamist:

Today was payday and roughly 50 employees are not getting their two week paychecks. We are suppose to have a wedding tomorrow and Sunday as well as every weekend for the next year plus. Literally hundreds of couples who have paid in full or partially to have their weddings at rebar and other venues have been screwed by this man.

Among those couples were Heather Epstein and Brian Cavanaugh, who told DNA Info they paid more than $20,000 for reBar's all-inclusive package for their June 7 wedding.

"The worst part is that we fell in love with reBar and the package they offered us," Epstein, 27, said. "I am drained, I just feel emotionally drained."

Another woman, Julie Villar, told DNA Info that she'd given the bar more than $20,000 for her May 25 wedding, which she'd booked at the venue more than a year ago.

"We've scrounged and saved and have given up a lot for that money," she said. "I can't begin to tell you how much it meant."

Villar hopes to bring a class action suit against Stevens, who hasn't been heard from since the bar's closing on Friday. "What he's done to us is vile," Villar said.

A spokeswoman for Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson's office told DNA Info they are investigating the case.

Meanwhile, several Brooklyn venues and businesses have offered deals for couples who lost their deposits.

UPDATE: From the New York Daily News:

A Brooklyn restaurateur who shuttered his bar and vanished last week has been the subject of a criminal investigation for more than a year, it was revealed on Monday.

Jason Stevens was on the hook for upward of $2 million in unpaid taxes when he abruptly closed reBar in DUMBO — in the process stiffing numerous couples who had put down deposits for wedding parties. His whereabouts are unknown.

Gothamist reported that Stevens took off with $150,000 in future wedding deposits plus $27,000 in cash.

[Image via dumbonyc/Flickr]