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Posted on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Owner says Mexican restaurant will open this year in Ypsilanti's former Elbow Room after initial delays

By Katrease Stafford


Owner Andrew Epstein said he still plans to open a Mexican restaurant this year in the former Elbow Room space at 6 S. Washington St.

Tom Perkins | For

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."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


free form

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

So excited to hear about this! I think it's actually a great sign that Andrew Epstein is taking the time to rehab the building and get the remodel right. One of my major pet peeves are restaurants (or any business, really) that rush to open in a space and open quickly without any regard for the atmosphere. The Elbow room is a unique piece of Ypsi. I hope Epstein puts the time and effort into making that space new and exciting without losing the character of the building. There is so much potential there if the concept, design and food are done right. Restaurants like that are worth the wait!


Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 7:39 p.m.

How authentic will the food be if the owner has the last name of Epstein? hmmm...I hope they get a chef from Mexico!

free form

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

I don't care if the food is "authentic" as long as it's delicious!

Julie Baker

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

I'm excited to see how this turns out. Downtown is definitely on the upswing. Red Rock is drawing more and more people to downtown with its delicious food and drinks, and this place will only draw more! Now, we just need to see something in those empty bars on N. Washington.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

All these new restaurants and shops opening in the city is a good sign. Good luck Mr. Epstein.

Katrease Stafford

Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

The owner seems eager to revitalize a property that's been vacant, which is great for this particular area. I've received a few emails from people asking about the plans for the property, so I'll be sure to continue to follow up with his plans as the project moves forward. I should also mention the owner is interested in revitalizing the second floor of the building, possibly turning it into an apartment. However, he said his main focus right now is the restaurant.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

I really hope this one is better then the one on Washtenaw. We went a month after it opened and there were a lot of problems and this included the food. I still recommend the one on Whittaker for Fajitas and the one at the tail end of Michigan , East side, for everything else.


Tue, Mar 19, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

We have been to the one on Washtenaw twice. Once, a week after opening and again just last week. The first time was bit of a mess, but the second time it was quite good. I think they have a new chef now and got a lot of other problems sorted out.


Mon, Mar 18, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

Sounds like a nice redo of this former "dive bar". With a brand new kitchen, it would be great to work on ensuring a perfect health department inspection each time and making this destination one envied by others. Good luck!