One of the West Loop’s loudest bars, Bandit, is a little louder. Last month, management opened up a new second floor with two bars and several TVs, specializing in what DineAmic co-founder Lucas Stoioff calls “large-format party enhancers,” perfect for servers to take care of large groups. They’re calling the second floor. “Bandit on 2,” and the space debuted two weeks ago. DineAmic feels it’s been a win after the challenges the hospitality industry endured last year.
Stoioff insists they’re not going for a club feel — Bandit leans heavy into a dive bar aesthetic without a dress code, a come as your are atmosphere that’s unique for the neighborhood. Opening weekend went well, Stoioff says customers at nearby restaurants like Nobu can feel the new energy and that sparks curiosity. Bandit’s first floor opened two years ago bring a bit of college nostalgia from the ‘90s: The two bathrooms were decorated to pay homage to popstars Brittany Spears and Justin Timberlake. Bandit on 2 continues that theme with lavatories that honor Elton John, the Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child, Eminem, Tupac Shakur, and Biggie.
The new addition is split into two spaces. Stoioff says the south side of the room is a little quieter; couples on dates may gravitate toward the 9-foot bar. They’ve added 4,000 square feet with room for 150 people. There’s also a 17-by-8-foot gold sequin wall with a suspended DJ booth that will crank up as the night progresses.
The space doesn’t take itself seriously. There’s a mirror that leads toward the south room reading simply “this is a mirror.” Stoioff says he got the idea for that after seeing countless customers walk into a glass pane at DineAmic’s River North bar, Public House. One night, he quickly pasted a homemade sign to the pane hoping to make it stop. It worked, and the sign became popular on Instagram. DineAmic would eventually add a permanent sign. After they opened Bandit on 2, Stoioff saw history repeating with customers walking into the mirror thinking they were entering a new room. He called in a crew to stencil a reminder into the mirror to avert the crisis.
The full menu is available on both floors, but the second floor is more about the cocktails. Chef Gabriel Villalobos comes over from Barrio and has added one prominent item, “Mozzarella THICCs” — jumbo-sized cheese sticks with house marinara and parmesan ranch.
Walk through the space below.
Bandit on 2, 841 W. Randolph Street, open 4 p.m. to midnight on Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday; 10 a.m. 50 midnight on Sunday.