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Building a better La Bamba

New version of Mexican eatery may open by May 5

After 12 years in its current location, Sandy’s La Bamba is headed to a new home.

Carlo Vicenttin, owner of the Mexican eatery, said he hopes to unveil the renovated restaurant at 17275 Strauss Ave. in time for the popular Cinco de Mayo holiday. POST PHOTO: ERIK KELLAR - Carlo Vicenttin, owner of Sandy Mexican restaurant La Bamba, purchased and is renovating the building at 17275 Strauss Ave. Plans include a new kitchen, outdoor dining and family-friendly bar area.

As Vicenttin waits to clear the final permitting and health inspection stages, the property is undergoing an extensive facelift inside and out, one that includes a new kitchen, outdoor patio and family-friendly bar area.

“It’s going to look and feel like a brand-new building, really,” said Vicenttin, who also owns a La Bamba in Portland.

After deciding he wanted to depart from the current La Bamba location off Proctor Boulevard, Vicenttin made the offer to purchase the new La Bamba building in March 2015. He closed on the property in October. The building was constructed about 30 years ago, and was originally intended as administrative or office space; at one time, it was used as an annex for a neighboring church.

It has many newer amenities, such as modern insulation and air conditioning, Vicenttin said. POST PHOTO: ERIK KELLAR - The building was built about 30 years ago for office and administrative purposes. City officials hope that La Bambas move will prompt other businesses to move into the area, too.

“The building had not been occupied for the last 10 years,” he said. “It’s been standing there, not doing anything. However, they maintained it really well.”

Vicenttin is working to create a lively dining atmosphere at the new La Bamba.

Hot pink walls accented by cobalt blue tiles will greet diners. A new front French door also will be added. Guests will be able to look into the action of the open kitchen to the left when they enter through the lobby. An outdoor dining area, complete with a roof canopy, is also being built, and a double-sided fireplace will be installed.

“The minute you step in, you’ll be able see everything that’s happening in the restaurant,” Vicenttin said.

Some things will remain the same, though. As at the old La Bamba, the restaurant will have video poker machines for entertainment.

Vicenttin also wanted to maintain an atmosphere that would suit all generations, too. The new La Bamba will offer an expanded bar area with a 65-inch television and seating.

The future La Bamba building will seat about the same number of patrons as the previous restaurant.

“The main difference is we’re going to be in a nicer, newer, cleaner environment,” Vicenttin said.

City officials believe La Bamba’s move is a step in the right direction.

The new La Bamba is located at the corner of Strauss Avenue and Hood Street, across from Sandy Grade School, with a lot that borders Pleasant Street. Pleasant Street is part of the city’s central business district, noted David Snider, economic development manager for the city.

“We are hoping that La Bamba will become somewhat of an ‘anchor tenant’ on that street that will encourage more commercial interest in that area,” Snider explained.

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