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Warman leaves trail of debt

Former staff say they were stiffed

WORKING FOR FREE. Former Church St Bar manager Mark Stenabaugh says controversial businessman Marc Warman still owns him wages. Credit: Josh Swan

The former general manager of Church St Bar says controversial businessman Marc Warman still owes him $1,200 in unpaid wages.

Mark Stenabaugh says he was hired by Warman in August 2007 to run the bar at 501 Church St. Stenabaugh says he worked for Warman until the bar closed on Nov 14 after the landlord cancelled the lease for nonpayment of rent.

He says Warman and Powell were given an ultimatum by the building’s landlord to pay the outstanding rent or be turfed the following day.

“Instead of being locked out and losing everything they decided they were just going to haul ass,” says Stenabaugh.

Warman and Powell decided to spend the night moving the contents of Church Street Bar to 5 St Joseph St, another nightclub space Warman leased, says Stenabaugh. He adds that the bar’s senior staff organized the move while customers and other staff were kept in the dark.

“At midnight the curtains got pulled and the doors got locked,” recounts Stenabaugh. “It was me, our maintenance guy, two of our security girls, my boyfriend at the time and Marc Warman. We worked all night until like six in the morning. I’ve never seen a move so fast in all my life.”

Stenabaugh says he had lunch with Warman and Powell in mid-December. He says Warman gave him $500 and told him he’d get the rest of the money owed to him later. But, says Stenabaugh, he hasn’t seen or heard from Warman since.

When contacted by phone Warman refused to speak to Stenabaugh’s allegations, threatening legal action if Xtra published the story. It’s not the first time Warman has rattled that sabre. He made the same threat to Xtra reporter Rob Salerno last August after Buddies and Bad Times Theatre, Pride Toronto and club promoter Steve Ireson all alleged Warman stiffed them separately for money.

In a follow-up story after the bar’s closure Xtra reported DJ and event planner Sean Young, former Warman employee Bryce Christmas and a half dozen other sources who declined to comment on the record, all alleged Warman stiffed them for money.

Warman told Xtra last year that he and his business partner Scott Powell planned Church Street Bar as a showcase for ManCandy Radio, an online radio station Warman told Xtra he founded in 2003.

“They wanted a place to showcase their music,” says Stenabaugh. “When their music was showcased in the bar it wasn’t very popular.”

Stenabaugh says Warman and Powell were reluctant to book more traditional gay entertainment, even when it became apparent the Church Street Bar wasn’t making money.

“The young kids that Church Street Bar was attracting, that listened to ManCandy Radio, had no money,” says Stenabaugh.