The Bando: Community Service and Good Food

Published by Imani Benjamin on

The Bando: Community and Food Combined

Atlanta is Wing City. Anywhere you look, there’s a place with a unique twist to the city’s signature dish. Nestled in the West Ridge Shopping Center off of MLK Dr, The Bando’s doing something a little different. 

The Bando opened up in Oct. of last year after months of preparation. Owners Richard Burke III and Terrence J. Bradshaw have been working hard since then to serve up a unique blend of food: wings and hot dogs, created with signature recipes. 

The Bando | Photo courtesy of Kennae Hunter

The Bando is the Atlanta – Detroit connection serving up wings and Coney dogs, hot dogs with beanless chili, diced onions and mustard. 

All of their dishes have unique names based on Atlanta and Detroit slang, like the What Up Doe Coney Dogs or Parlay Wings. Their specialties are the Crack Wings and Strawberry Hot Wings that you can’t find anywhere else in the city.

A mixture of sugary sweet goodness and salty, grease-fried flavoring come together to form the taste of a “crack wing” one could only get from this establishment. Its one of a kind taste makes these wings delicious down to the last bite. The cooked-to-order meals are always hot and fresh, but served with a wait of no more than about 15 minutes. The Conies, hot dogs loaded with condiments, are extremely flavorful since they are not stingy with the toppings. It’s an experience only found at The Bando.

The Bando is order-to-go and has no indoor seating. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have charm. Burke and Bradshaw take pride in Atlanta and Detroit’s culture and want to connect with the people they serve.

They wanted to take the slang term “bandos,” or abandoned houses where drugs are sold, and make it a positive. The lobby is decorated like a nineties trap house frozen in time. Some walls are spray painted with hip-hop icons and characters from Boondocks while others are boarded up. 

The Bando Lobby | Photo courtesy of Kennae Hunter

Atlanta is sprinkled through the multiple, museum-like rooms, from the Atlanta Braves logo painted on a mattress to the I-75 sign on proud display. Further in, there’s a counter dedicated to black artists from Jay-Z to Lauryn Hill, a wall decorated with the pictures of Black movie stars and a table of magazines featuring rap artists.

Atlanta is a major center of music from pop to hip-hop. It may not be the birthplace of trap music but it’s produced artists like T.I. and 2 Chainz. 

But The Bando has a calling other than serving wings. Burke and Bradshaw met in 2017 while pursuing their dreams as educators. Burke, a Detroit native, moved to Atlanta in 2014 and Bradshaw had been working to mentor at-risk youth. 

While working at Kipp Visions Academy, they came together to form Building Better Brothers. Building Better Brothers, their mentorship program, started out as taking boys to get pizza and talk. Then, it turned into an opportunity to be role models for boys in their community. “We’re just trying to show them something different is the main goal.” Burke said. 

Building Better Brothers is currently mentoring about 20 to 30 boys on the importance of education, brotherhood and community. Now, the team is looking to reach bigger and better heights, so they created a school, the Building Better Brothers Academy.

The Bando was born out of necessity. The initial Go Fund Me campaigns, intended to raise money for their school, didn’t yield the results they needed. Without money, their dreams of building a school would be significantly set back significantly.

That’s when they started to notice a pattern. There were restaurants profiting off their community but never putting money back into the neighborhood.  

They didn’t intend to get into the restaurant industry but they wanted to make something “…in the hood, by the hood, for the hood.” For Burke and Bradshaw, the Bando was just the next step to reach their goals and give back to their community.

The Bando, in short, is a great place to eat.  It has great art, good food and a strong connection to its community. 

Richard Burke III | Photo courtesy of Kennae Hunter

 If you’re looking for a place with wings, character and culture, give The Bando a try!

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Imani Benjamin

Imani Benjamin-Wharton is a graduate from Georgia State University with a degree in English. She’s an aspiring novelist hoping to write the next great American novel. In her free time, she learns the secrets of survival from her favorite horror movies.


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