On M Street, the former Hook restaurant sits vacant, closed down since June when a fire caused severe damage to the restaurant and its neighbor, Tackle Box. Mike Isabella, chef at Graffiato and a former contestant on Top Chef, plans to fill the space with a new, contemporary Mexican restaurant called Bandolero.
Jonathan Umbel, owner of Tackle Box and the former Hook, said he thinks that Isabella will help cater to a younger demographic and provide a more casual dining environment in the face of a sputtering economy. While the new restaurant will be Isabella’s creation, Umbel will continue to own the building.
“We’re really excited to be connected with Mike,” Umbel said. “We think he’s a talented guy.” He also said that Isabella’s cooking is “flavorful,” and that this partnership was a “no brainer.”
Isabella stated in a press release that his vision is for a restaurant that is “high-energy,” one that will “match the bustling vibe of the Georgetown neighborhood.” He plans to serve a variety of Mexican dishes, including salsas, guacamole, ceviches, tacos and fajitas. Options for dishes con carne will include unusual choices such as duck, goat and off-cuts of meat.
Bandolero is expected to open by March of next year, which will give construction workers time to repair over $50,000 worth of damage sustained in the fire.
Umbel plans to have Tackle Box, the other restaurant damaged in the fire, opened by Thanksgiving.
The fire that damaged the two structures started in Hook’s loading dock June 29, and the resulting damage from smoke and water shut the restaurants down. Originally, Umbel announced that Hook would be closed indefinitely.
“We pigeonholed ourselves into a fine dining restaurant [with Hook]” he said, “which is a segment that is really being beaten up by the economy right now.” He said that if he wanted to, he could open Hook back up, but he hopes that Bandolero, a more casual restaurant, will attract more customers and provide a unique dining experience to the Georgetown community.