Bandolero general manager James Horn has amicably parted ways with Mike Isabella's restaurant group to live the dream: Come August, he'll flip from front to back of the house with a new gig toiling in the kitchen at Bourbon Steak.
As a fourth-generation restaurant guy, Horn says he got his industry start in the kitchen and has been pondering a return for some time. "My heart really lies in the kitchen," Horn says, later adding, "I don't want to be at a desk. I don't want to be crunching numbers and things like that." Apparently there's nothing like serving as opening general manager for two hype monsters, Graffiato and Bandolero, to bring on the burnout. With two more Isabella concepts on the horizon for 14th Street, it was time to pull the trigger.
Horn remains a non-operational part-owner of Graffiato and emphasizes that he's still supportive of his friend Isabella — who he calls "the king of DC" — saying that he stayed on at Bandolero for six weeks after giving his notice to ensure things were running smoothly for the recently opened restaurant. Isabella, in turn, sent Eater the following statement through his rep:
"I 100% support James, and I really respect that he is taking a step back in his career to do what he loves. It's tough to do that in this industry. We are great friends and will be friends for a long time. I would be happy to help with anything he need in the future and wish him the best of luck."
Of course, it helps to have friends when making a big life change, and Horn's friendship with Bourbon Steak chef Adam Sobel nabbed him a gig working the butchery program at the restaurant, where he plans to re-learn the fundamentals after years of mastering front of the house skills — "It's not going to be a six month thing and then "Oh here comes Chef James,'" he says. He starts at Bourbon Steak on August 1.
Meanwhile, Mike Isabella's Director of Operations Steve Uhr is filling in as Bandolero general manager and they continue to search for a replacement.