Mike Isabella Drops Bandolero

The Mexican restaurant Bandolero has lost its star chef, Mike Isabella, who with others opened the “Day of the Dead”-themed eatery of small tacos, other small plates and fancy tequila drinks in late May 2012 on M Street.

Isabella announced July 31 that he was ending his management agreement with the business owners, Jonathan and Bethany Umbel, who also own Tackle Box next door. Bandolero is in the space once occupied by Hook, a seafood restaurant, closed because of a fire two years ago. Umbel’s Pure Hospitality is fighting a lawsuit — which Isabella has nothing to do with — from the property owner of that space.

Isabella has other places in D.C., such as Graffiato and the sandwich spot, G Grab and Go. Last month, he opened a Greek restaurant on 14th Street, Kapnos.

In a prepared statement, Isabella explained his decision: “I am no longer part of Bandolero. I own all my other restaurant concepts. And with the opening of G Grab and Go, Kapnos and G this year, it’s time for me to focus on those concepts. I am very proud of the modern Mexican concept my team and I put together, but it’s not 100-percent my restaurant … It’s time for me to focus on the restaurants where I have full operational control.”

Isabella — a “Top Chef” alumnus — was the subject of a Georgetowner feature in June 2012.

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