Defunct San Diego Cocktail Bar ModBom Accused Of Failing To Provide Tax Records To Employees

July 2, 2024

Defunct San Diego cocktail bar, Modbom, which closed last year after a short stint in San Diego's East Village, is being accused of not paying some vendors and failing to provide former employees with important tax documents. 

In early 2023, Aubree Miller and Brian Rubinstein took over the East Village branch of San Diego's Amplified Ale Works craft brewery, which opened its East Village location in summer 2018. They quickly launched Modbom Cocktails in the nearly 5,000 square-foot indoor-outdoor building adjacent to Fault Line Park at the corner of 14th and Island. The duo also partnered with longtime area chef Andrew "Drew" Bent to operate his Sonoran barbecue concept Papalo from inside the ample space. 

Around seven months after opening, ModBom abruptly closed. Drew Bent's Papalo has since opened in La Mesa and the former ModBom space is now occupied by Izola bakery. Employees recently contacted us at SanDiegoVille to report that ModBom ownership failed to provide them with their Internal Revenue Service W-2 Form for 2023 wages. 

Employees need an IRS W-2 form from their employers because it is essential for completing federal and state income tax returns, the filing of which allows them to receive sometimes substantial tax refunds. It provides a summary of an employee's earnings and the taxes withheld. Employers are legally required to provide W-2 forms to their employees by January 31 each year. This compliance ensures that employees have enough time to prepare and file their tax returns by the April deadline.

Employers winding down operations might overlook or delay administrative tasks like issuing W-2 forms due to the complexities and pressures of closing a business. A business going out of business might face financial difficulties, making it challenging to cover the costs associated with preparing and distributing W-2 forms.

In addition to accusations of failing to give employees their associated W-2 form, ModBom ownership has been accused of not providing payment on some final invoices from vendors. It is also alleged that gratuities paid for food service were not properly turned over to restaurant management.

We reached out to Brian Rubinstein, who is a licensed attorney in California and also operates Sunset Trivia, for comment and/or more information but did not receive information by the time of publishing. Aubree Miller issued the following response:

"I have not been a part of modbom nor its operations since just before its closure," wrote Miller in reply to an email from SanDiegoVille. "I was forced out of the business last fall. I have zero control or ability to do anything about it. I’ve personally done absolutely everything I can to help the employees - however my ability is very limited due to having zero access to any of this information. This matter is completely out of my hands in the same way it is out of the hands of other former minority partners... As after October 31, 2023 I was forced to hand over my keys and locked out of all affiliated accounts. During my time and after my departure Work Perks payroll was charged with maintaining employee payroll with the operating management of Modbom as their point of contact. I also tried to access this information for the employees in previous months, but was denied since I was no longer involved in the project. This is an extremely frustrating feeling as a former partner and manager being unable to access and deliver employee information."

ModBom operated from March 1 through October 2023 at 1429 Island Avenue in San Diego's East Village. For more information, visit