DUMBO — After reBar owner Jason Stevens left dozens of couples in the lurch after abruptly shuttering his venue and allegedly stiffing them out tens of thousands of dollars in wedding deposits, his event planners picked up the slack by continuing to work with couples to make their day special.
And they are doing it for free.
Wedding planners Tyler Lindsay and Katherine Cassell, who lost their jobs after the May 9 closure, have been working around the clock to find new venues and vendors plus providing day-of assistance to more than 40 couples who were left in the lurch when reBar closed.
"I feel like this is sort of my moral obligation to take care of them," Cassell, 26, said. "I know they've lost a lot of money to Jason and reBar so I'd feel kind of guilty asking them for any sort of payment."
It's a trying time for Lindsay and Cassell who, like the rest of the approximately 50 reBar employees, worked for three weeks without pay and are now forced to look for new jobs.
"The day that reBar closed was pay day," Lindsay, 40, said. "I had to borrow money to pay rent and I know some of the staff are in worse financial situations than myself."
He added, "Right now, I'm interviewing at venues and considering my options."
Still both of the former staffers, who each worked at reBar for ten months, are committed to helping the couples as long as they're needed.
And those with upcoming weddings are grateful.
"Tyler has been so amazing," said Heather Epstein, 27, whose wedding was planned for June 7 and is out $20,000 because of the bar's closure. "Just yesterday he put us in touch with more prospective venues and a DJ."
The DUMBO community is stepping up not only to help reBar couples, but also the former staff.
DUMBO fashion boutique Modavanti is hoping to raise $10,000 goal on GiveForward specifically for former employees. As of Friday afternoon they had raised $1,370.
Lindsay and Cassell were shocked that Stevens, who was recently charged with stealing more than $1 million in sales tax from the venue, let so many people down.
Lindsay described Stevens as "a very unusual person with uncontrollable creativity." He said he felt betrayed by his former boss.
"I'm very saddened and disappointed that reBar closed. The servers, bartenders and culinary staff were a family," he said. "I know we all want justice and closure."