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Georgetown Mexican restaurant Bandolero is closing after more than three years full of legal disputes and troubles. Owner Jonathan Umbel, who runs the restaurant with his wife Bethany Umbel, tells the Post the closure had nothing to do with lawsuits with the landlord. “We aren’t shutting down because we had to or we were forced to,” he said.
Meanwhile, Umbel’s adjoining restaurant, Tackle Box, closed at the beginning of March with a sign on the door that read “gone fishing, 7 year old restaurant needs some TLC and will resurface in early March.” It never reopened. Umbel has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Y&H over the last few days.
Bandolero has faced a succession of problems since it opened in May of 2012—including a lengthy legal dispute with the landlord over unpaid rent, taxes, and other grievances—and lost its big name chef and the face of the business, Mike Isabella.
2441 Bond St. Equities LLC, which owns the adjoining properties leased by Tackle Box and Bandolero, filed a series of lawsuits against the Umbels in early 2012. The Umbels also sued the landlord, claiming that it created “baseless or fabricated” reasons to declare defaults and evict the businesses. Matt Wexler, one of the partners in 2441 Bond St. Equities, declined to comment then and now.
The relationship between the two parties continued to sour when the landlord protested the liquor licenses of Tackle Box and Bandolero in 2013. The landlord accused the Umbels of a series of “questionable business practices,” including illegal grease dumping, engaging in “destructive and threatening behavior,” and “total disregard for the rights of their employees.” The Umbels denied all the allegations.
Meanwhile, Isabella, who also owns Graffiato, Kapnos, and a growing number of other restaurants, cut ties with Bandolero in July of 2013. Isabella had a management agreement as chef of the restaurant, but was never an owner. Nonetheless, Isabella has a Day of the Dead-themed Mexican cowboy tattoo across his upper left arm that he got in honor of Bandolero’s opening.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery