Bandito's Moves North
In the Works: March 2019
From the March, 2019 issue
More than a year after closing during construction, Kanwar Sandhanwalia is giving up and moving Bandito's from downtown to Ann Arbor's north side.
When we last wrote about Sandhanwalia's ordeal in May 2018, what was originally described as a six-hour closure had already stretched to nine months. Though the building's top-floor expansion was far from complete, he remained determinedly optimistic. Hoping he'd finally open in June, he was continuing to keep employees on paid leave and giving loyal customers regular updates on new tentative opening dates. "I lost my life savings," he says.
To stay afloat, he started a small cab-driving business, to mixed success, and sold Bandito's gift cards to loyal customers who shared his optimism. But as hoped-for reopening dates kept receding, so did his optimism. He's leaving Fourth Ave. behind--and says he has "no comments at all" about his experience there.
In February, he was renovating the former Olga's on Plymouth Rd., where he says the new Bandito's will open this spring. Customers who bought gift cards will be able to redeem them there. Sandhanwalia is planning to recreate the style of the original Bandito's, but he is looking forward to an increase in capacity: the former location could seat around fifty, while the new one caps at 200.
Sandhanwalia is counting on a solid start from his loyal customers, including some who have been coming in ever since it opened in the early 1990s. Many on the restaurant's Facebook page eagerly affirm this hope: "HELL YES! Been waiting a lifetime for it!" says one comment in response to the announcement. "We miss you, and will make the trip to wherever you land!" says another.
Sandhanwalia says he will continue to post updates on the Bandito's Facebook page. "Hopefully people can flock here," he says. "I'm really trying to get the word out."
[Originally published in March, 2019.]
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