We knew this day was coming; now the date is finally on the calendar. On December 27, the Sunday after Christmas, Manuel’s Tavern will shut down to begin the long-overdue process of renovating the building it’s occupied since 1956.
Patrons of the iconic Poncey-Highland bar, a second home to many politicos, newspapermen, and activists, will be forced to congregate elsewhere for the early part of 2016. As for its roughly 60 employees, they’ll be left without work until the establishment reopens. To help the waiters and line cooks, a crowdfunding effort has launched in hopes of helping them bridge their employment gap.
John Duke and Sarah Hoke, two regular patrons of Manuel’s, have launched a $60,000 GoFundMe campaign that if successful would provide each worker with a $1,000—a “month’s worth of bills.” “The staff have become our friends, and this is our way of helping them out during this transition,” Duke wrote on the fundraiser’s website. One day into the campaign, more than 50 people have managed to raise $2,850 for the staff.
Angelo Fuster, a spokesperson for Manuel’s, told us the renovations would take “three-and-a-half months, four at the most.” During that time, Green Street Properties, who purchased the century-old building itself along with the surrounding parking lots, will help repair the aging structure, upgrade the heating and air conditioning systems, and refurbish other parts of the building. At the same time, an army of Georgia State University historians will continue the painstaking process of archiving the countless black-and-white photographs and aging beer cans on the walls of the watering hole.
With any luck, Manuel’s will open its doors again next April (perhaps just in time for Sine Die?) and feel, well, just like the Manuel’s of old. For now, though, open your wallets to the folks who have served you hot dogs and poured your High Life pints at the corner of North and Highland avenues.