Owner says Mexican restaurant will open this year in Ypsilanti's former Elbow Room after initial delays
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Plans to open a Mexican restaurant in the former Elbow Room in downtown Ypsilanti have been delayed, but owner Andrew Epstein said he still plans to open before the end of the year.
The bar closed in 2011 and Epstein initially planned to open in early 2013.
"We will hopefully be open this year," Epstein said. "We had to take a little bit of time to get our finances in order and now we're in the process of applying for a liquor license. Things are definitely moving finally."
Epstein said he's still looking into obtaining a downtown redevelopment liquor license, but one of the stipulations is he must first pursue available licenses that are in escrow.
"I've been talking to people this week to see what they're asking for," he said.
Epstein said businesses that invest at least $75,000 in rehabbing a building are eligible for a redevelopment license, which he said will cost around $20,000. In addition to the liquor license, Epstein said he also must receive site plan approval from Washtenaw County before moving forward with the project.
"It all depends on just when we get approval for things," he said.
Epstein bought the bar, 6 S. Washington St., for $50,000 last September from the estate of former owner, Marion Campbell. The building's assessed value is $59,000, making its market value nearly double.
Epstein plans to do extensive renovations to the property, including a new kitchen.
"We're putting in a kitchen, which was not there, and in addition to that, we definitely want to do some refinishing for the bar and remodeling for the dining area," he said.
Epstein said he will also update the bathrooms to make them ADA compliant.
"We are obviously trying to get our vision accomplished," he said. "Our goal is to create a casual, laid-back environment where there's really delicious Mexican food. The food is very important to us."
Epstein said he is looking for an architect and a builder down the line to get the renovation process under way. He will likely hire between eight to 10 people to staff the restaurant, as well.
Epstein said he and his wife have yet to settle on a name, although he hopes to finalize it by the end of the month.
"We’re really excited we’re setting up in Ypsi as opposed to Ann Arbor," Epstein said. "I like the vibe of Ypsilanti. When you go to Ann Arbor on Saturday night, the place is packed and it's hard to find places to park. What I’ve heard from other restaurants that have opened near us, is that (we're all) turning into a nice food destination area."