Troubled Georgetown mod-Mex spot Bandolero closed last week, leaving behind a messy legal history and a tattoo on one-time chef Mike Isabella. Also still around: two lawsuits against the restaurant that allege criminal behavior by Bandolero staff, from electronic voyeurism to sexual assault.
The first lawsuit dates back to when two women went to the restaurant’s bathroom on April 30, 2014. When one of the women used a toilet, she noticed a Samsung Galaxy phone, wrapped in tape, fall onto the bathroom floor.
That’s when a Bandolero employee allegedly rushed into the room and tried to grab the phone. According to the complaint, the phone had pictures of several women using the toilet. The women called the police and gave them the phone as evidence.
The Bandolero employee named in the complaint was never charged in the District for the crime, but the restaurant settled the case for $10,000, according to court records.
Like Bandolero’s landlord before them, though, the plaintiffs in the voyeurism case found out that Bandolero owner Jonathan Umbel doesn’t always pay his bills. This June, the women filed a motion to force Pure Hospitality, the company that owned Bandolero, to pay the settlement. According to court records, Pure Hospitality hadn’t paid any of the $10,000.
Before Bandolero closed, one of its staffers was accused of an even more heinous crime, the subject of a pending negligence lawsuit filed this March against Pure Hospitality. In the complaint, an unnamed woman alleges that a Bandolero bartender deliberately got her drunk with a margarita, then sexually assaulted her.
The plaintiff in the case went to Bandolero on May 16, 2013, according to the complaint, where one of the bartenders gave her a margarita “spiked with a concentration of rare, 110-proof Chartreuse liquor.”
After getting the woman drunk, the bartender allegedly took her to his Arlington apartment, where she passed out vomiting on the bathroom floor. The bartender allegedly sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious. When the woman woke up half-dressed in the bartender’s bed, according to the complaint, she went to George Washington University for sexual assault treatment.
After being busted in a sting phone call, according to the complaint, the bartender cut a plea deal in Arlington for “felony animate object sexual penetration” and six months incarceration.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in both cases and the attorney for the bartender didn’t return requests for comment. Asked about the cases, Umbel writes in an email he couldn’t comment… and then commented anyway.
“You guys should try to report on news worthy stories,” Umbel writes. “city paper is ridiculous please never email us again karma is king.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery