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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Student inherits biker bar

    The Bashful Bandit, a local biker bar with a long history in Tucson, is becoming the new place for college students to be thanks to the new owner: UA student Joe Stapleton.

    Stapleton, a 22-year-old business and finance senior, has been running the day-to-day operations of The Bashful Bandit since November 2004, but he became the sole owner in January when his father, Bill Stapleton, retired after running the bar for 16 years.

    “”I’m getting up there,”” Bill Stapleton said about his age. “”I want to get back on the road; ride my bike.””

    Although Bill will be leaving the historic bar, he said he has been there since “”Speedway was dirt”” and that The Bandit is being left in good hands because Joe has been hanging out at the bar for a long time.

    “”I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid,”” Joe Stapleton said.

    His long history with The Bandit gives him an advantage over most first-time bar owners, an advantage that is already pumping new, youthful life into the biker-friendly tavern.

    Although most people don’t think of Tuesday night as being a busy night at the bars, Stapleton said Tuesdays have become the busiest night of the week, when 400 to 500 people can now be seen packing into The Bandit for Ladies Night, one of his additions.

    “”(Ladies Night) took off, and I haven’t been able to stop it,”” Stapleton said.

    This was not always the case, however.

    “”It started with 15 of us in there,”” Stapleton said. “”Just a couple of friends hanging out on a Tuesday night.””

    After struggling in August, Ladies Night began to materialize in September, when Stapleton said there were 50 patrons one week and then 250 the next.

    “”It’s been a real experience watching something you start up take off,”” Stapleton said.

    Part of The Bandit’s newfound success with college students comes because Stapleton is a college student himself who “”knows what college students want.””

    “”I got sick of going to the same bars over and over,”” Stapleton said. “”Each week (The Bandit) is a new place with a totally different atmosphere. I love to think I’m giving something back to campus, giving students another place to go to, not the same old thing.””

    The opportunity of going somewhere new is appreciated by students who enjoy The Bandits’ atmosphere.

    “”I go religiously every single Tuesday,”” said Erica Folkoff, a communication senior. “”The people, the bar, everything is so different.””

    Folkoff said she has seen The Bandit’s popularity increase with the college crowd.

    “”It’s become one of those bars you have to get (to) before 11:30 (p.m.),”” Folkoff said.

    Stapleton is using the success of Ladies Night to inspire new features, including ’90s nights and Karaoke, and he plans to add a parking lot, a patio and a porch.

    “”I’m not quite sure what the future holds for me,”” Stapleton said. “”I can definitely see myself staying here and owning (The Bandit).””

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