Imagine it’s two months before your wedding and most of the details have been taken care of. You are boarding a plane to attend another friend’s wedding when you get word that the venue for your reception has been shut down without warning.
It sounds like something out of a nightmare, but it was a reality for Brendan Spiegel, a New York resident who had booked his wedding with his fiancée, Holly Ellis, at reBar, the popular nightlife spot and wedding venue in DUMBO, Brooklyn that shut down suddenly last week.Employees had gone into work on May 9th and found the bar completely shuttered due to bankruptcy. A few days later, reBar owner Jason Stevens was arrested at his home for grand larceny and tax fraud.
At least the bad guy was caught, but what about the approximately 200 weddings that had been booked at reBar from now until the end of the year? The wedding planners and DJs at reBar have been scrambling to help displaced couples (free of charge), and nearby wedding venues have offered discounts to couples who had booked at reBar. We spoke with Brendan Spiegel about his nightmare reBar experience.
I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. What are your plans now?
We have a new venue 26 Bridge also in DUMBO. It’s new and they were offering half-price deals reBar couples. The problem is, reBar weddings are all inclusive and this is just the space, so now we have to figure out how to plan a wedding in two months. Everyone has been very nice and sympathetic.
Are you going to have to change your wedding date or other plans?
We are sticking with our original date of July 18th because we have family coming in from out of the country. We are extremely lucky that we booked on a Friday because people with Saturday dates are having a tough time.
What has been the response from reBar?
We certainly haven’t heard from the owner. He didn’t tell anyone anything. The employees were shocked too. The wedding planners have been emailing people with alternate venues. They aren’t getting paid; they are doing this as volunteers. The DJ said he would do our wedding at a discounted rate if he was available on our day.
Do you have any hope of getting your money back?
I don’t think we will. reBar gave you a discount for paying in full up front and we are out $16,000, but right now it doesn’t sound like there’s any money to pay the vendors or the couples back. We will still be going on a honeymoon, but nothing extravagant.