Prosecutors Investigated reBar for Months Before it Closed, Sources Say

By Murray Weiss and Janet Upadhye  on May 14, 2014 7:04am

DUMBO — Months before popular DUMBO gastropub and wedding venue reBar shuttered suddenly on Friday, investigators were probing allegations its owners were stiffing customers and were looking into unpaid taxes, sources said.

The Brooklyn District Attorney fielded a litany of complaints by disgruntled customers dating back to 2013, according to the sources.

City and state investigators were also eyeing reBar owner Jason Stevens' business taxes, the sources told DNAinfo New York.

The DA's office investigation had been picking up steam in recent months, right before the venue abruptly closed, leaving dozens of brides- and grooms-to-be in the lurch and on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars, sources said. A spokesman for the Brooklyn DA confirmed on Tuesday that they were investigating.

A spokesman for the The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance couldn't say whether there was an open investigation into the venue's taxes. There are currently no open warrants for Jason Stevens, officials said.

The state Attorney General's office has also fielded complaints about the venue following reBar's abrupt closure, a representative said. Details on the complaints or the number of complainants were not available.

Julie Villar, 27, who was planning to get married at reBar on May 25, said she suspected something was wrong with the venue's bookkeeping during the year she pre-paid for her wedding package in installments.

Stevens claimed last May to have lost two of Villar's checks, she said. No money was taken from her account.

"He told me they got lost in the mail," said the bride, who has paid reBar $20,000. "Once, I understand, but twice felt like a lie."

To make up for the lost checks, Stevens treated her and her fiancé to a full dinner and drinks, Villar said.

"Jason [Stevens] was very charming and knew the right things to say," she said, adding that she worries she will not recover her money. "There was something wrong."

Stevens could not be reached by phone and did not immediately respond to emailed inquiries.

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