Burned Rebar couple could get lucky after all

Burned Rebar couple could get lucky after all
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A Williamsburg venue is looking to turn the fortunes of one unlucky couple burned by the abrupt closure of the Dumbo gastropub Rebar upside down.

The owners of the bar and restaurant 1 Knickerbocker have been trying to help fill the void left in the wake of Rebar’s shuttering since shortly after it was announced on May 9, offering discounts and trying to accommodate last-minute bookings from frantic wedding parties. Now they are offering up a free wedding and holding a sad contest to find the engaged pair most in need of the nuptials.

“I think this might be a way to really make a difference for one couple,” said Jesse Levitt, who owns 1 Knickerbocker with his wife and another business partner. “We want to focus our effort on where we can help the most.”

To figure out who exactly fits the bill, Levitt is asking couples to e-mail 1 Knickerbocker by May 31 with the date the Rebar wedding was scheduled for and the predicament they find themselves in after the business’ abrupt closure. The owners say they will pick the twosome that seems to have it the worst.

The winning couple will receive a wedding party for as many as 100 guests, a buffet dinner, an open bar, and full staffing for the event, the restaurateur said.

Good deeds like Levitt’s are the only bright side to a terrible situation, said Christian Pascarella, who has been helping organize the Rebar couples to save their weddings, and who had shelled out $17,500 to Rebar for an October 2015 wedding only to have owner Jason Stevens lock up the place and disappear.

“That’s a beautiful gesture,” he said about 1 Knickerbocker’s wedding giveaway. “That’s been the one silver lining in all this, seeing people come together.”

Pascarella estimates that about 200 couples had their wedding plans dashed when Stevens closed Rebar and that he could have made off with as much as $1 million in cash.

Stevens resurfaced after a week under indictment for tax evasion. Prosecutors charge that he pocketed the saloon and eatery’s sales taxes between 2009 and 2012. His next court date was set for Thursday, after press time.

The district attorney’s office initially said it was eyeing whether Rebar’s surprise closure was criminal, but now says jilted lovebirds will have to sue to get their money back. The lack of response from law enforcement has the spurned romantics feeling abandoned, Pascarella said.

“The district attorney and the attorney general really aren’t doing enough,” he said. “They’re not helping us.”

Couples that wish to apply for the free wedding should send an e-mail to [email protected] by May 31. The message should include contact information, the wedding date, and a description of what makes your wedding situation unique. A couple will be announced on June 2, according to 1 Knickerbocker.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Even Stevens: As many as 200 couples are looking to get their money back from restaurateur Jason Stevens, but they'll have to get in line behind the federal government.
The Brooklyn Paper / Daniel Krieger