DA Investigates as ReBar's Sudden Closure Costs Couples Thousands

By Janet Upadhye on May 13, 2014 7:07am | Updated on May 13, 2014 10:05am

DUMBO — Heather Epstein and Brian Cavanaugh dreamed of a June wedding at the popular Brooklyn venue reBar.

The Carroll Gardens residents had a guest list of 70 people, many of whom were coming from out of state. They'd already made plans to fill reBar with flowers, food, music and cake.

And they'd forked over nearly $20,000 for the venue's all-inclusive package.

But Friday they discovered they had just weeks to find an alternative venue for their June 7 wedding reception after reBar suddenly shuttered amidst claims of bankruptcy.

They are among dozens of couples who reportedly were left in the lurch by the closure, some with just days to go before the big day.

The venue, at 147 Front St., had 200 weddings and other events booked through 2016, according to reports and a spokeswoman for Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson's office said they are investigating the case.

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

Epstein and Cavanaugh, 28, who works at the Vilcek Foundation, have been planning their wedding for a year and a half and with the ceremony set to take place in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the two have their heart set on a DUMBO venue.

Fortunately several local venues, including DUMBO LOFT, Baco Dumbo, Powerhouse Arena, Brooklyn Winery, Green Building and Milk and Roses, are offering discounted wedding packages to reBar's jilted couples.

"We are creating full wedding packages especially for reBar couples," Slavica Scesanovic, the manager at Baco, said. "They cost significantly lower than we usually charge."

Others are also coming to the rescue, like Cavanaugh's sister who started an online fundraising campaign site where 66 people had donated $4,497 as of Monday night. Brooklyn-based company Nine Lines' founder Katie Iles launched an Indiegogo campaign and hopes to raise $90,000 for the couples who planned for summer weddings.

Julie Villar, 27, also plans to take advantage of the good will of local businesses. Her wedding was scheduled for May 25 and the couple also lost $20,000.

"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, who booked her reBar wedding a year ago, hopes to start a class action lawsuit to recover the lost cash. She said she was outraged that she has not heard from reBar owner Jason Stevens. Other reBar wedding couples started a hashtag on Twitter in search of him

"What he's done to us is vile," Villar said.

Stevens did not respond to repeated calls for comment.

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