Church Street Bar closed its doors on Nov 14 after its landlord terminated the lease. A notice on the door of 501 Church St cites “failure to pay rent and other charges” as the reason for the termination. Now the bar’s controversial proprietor, Marc Warman, is laying low.
Warman told Xtra in August that he is the owner of ManCandy Radio, an online radio station founded in 2003. He said then that he planned to open three new bars in the Church-Wellesley neighbourhood, one at 501 Church St, one at 5 St Joseph St and one at an address he wouldn’t reveal.
As word of Warman’s plans became known several prominent members of Toronto’s queer community came forward with allegations that Warman stiffed them for money.
Pride Toronto executive director Fatima Amarshi told Xtra that Warman took more than a year to pay for a table he bought at the 2006 Pride Toronto Gala Awards.
“I’m not sure that without the support from other people in the community that we would have got paid,” Amarshi said then.
Jayne Schneider, director of development for Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, says Warman still owes $2,500 for a 2006 Buddies Pride party.
“We have followed up to get payment with him many times to no avail,” Schneider told Xtra in August. “We did contact him with a letter requesting payment as late as June this year and have not gotten a response to that letter. Being a nonprofit agent who supports the community we depend on that kind of revenue.”
Schneider declined to comment further for this story but did confirm that Warman has still done nothing to address the outstanding amount Schneider says he owes.
Nightclub manager Steve Ireson says Warman owes him “several thousand dollars” from an event the two collaborated on last year at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. Ireson says he also worked briefly as an employee of Warman’s at ManCandy in early 2006 and that Warman owes him more money from that arrangement.
“When you screw a charitable organization you’re screwing everybody in the community,” says Ireson, reflecting on Warman’s alleged conduct to date.
As Xtra attempted to track down Warman to ask about the closure of Church Street Bar more people have come forward saying Warman owes them too.
DJ and event planner Sean Young says Warman asked him to do a weekly show for ManCandy Radio when the site launched in 2003. Young says Warman agreed to provide publicity and top billing at ManCandy Radio events but that Warman never lived up to his end of the agreement.
“At this point he owes me either the services he originally promised me or a payout because I’ve done the work for him and he’s never returned any of the work he said he would do,” Young says.
Young says he stopped doing shows for ManCandy Radio in 2006. He says he sent Warman an email sometime around Pride last year stating he was unhappy with their business arrangement. Young says he is still waiting for a response to that email.
“I don’t think he deserves the community influence he’s gaining by doing business improperly,” Young says.
Bryce Christmas says he met Warman in 2004 at a one-year anniversary party for ManCandy Radio. Christmas says he and Warman eventually became close friends and that Christmas went on to work for Warman as his personal assistant. He says he later helped Warman prepare Church Street Bar for opening.
“My career was Marc Warman,” says Christmas.
Christmas says he worked at Church Street Bar as a floor manager until Warman fired him on Sep 17. Christmas says he believes he was fired because Warman no longer had any use for him.
“He tricked me into believing I was his best friend,” says Christmas. “I believed in his dream and he knew exactly how to play me.”
Christmas says he complained to the Ontario Labour Relations Board that Warman owes him back pay and won’t give him his official record of employment. Christmas claims he received a letter from Warman stating that he was paid $32,000 a year plus bonuses. But Christmas says he has still not received his record of employment and that he has pay receipts that show a salary of about $25,000 a year.
Xtra attempted to catch up with Warman by leaving several messages on his cell phone, knocking on the door of a College St office that once housed ManCandy Radio and twice visiting 5 St Joseph St where a ManCandy Radio banner hangs over the door and a notice of liquor licence application was displayed until recently. Xtra also emailed Warman. He responded that he would only agree to be interviewed if Xtra outlined the story for him in advance. Xtra replied but Warman didn’t respond before press time.
“The general public can be your best asset or your worst enemy if you don’t know how to handle them when they’re upset,” Warman told Xtra in August. “They’ll tell a million people and the business fails. As long as you learn how to deal with that and you pay your bills, look after your stuff, I can’t really see that being a problem.”