Coronavirus, Local, News

Live From Manuel’s Tavern: A Deep Dive Into Atlanta Restaurants Struggling To Stay Afloat

WABE's Jim Burress broadcast 'All Things Considered' live from Manuel's Tavern Friday. He spoke to owner Brian Maloof and regular Angelo Fuster about what the pandemic has meant to the longtime family business.
WABE's Jim Burress broadcast 'All Things Considered' live from Manuel's Tavern Friday. He spoke to owner Brian Maloof and regular Angelo Fuster about what the pandemic has meant to the longtime family business.
Credit DOT DORSNER / FLICKR

Updated a 6:58 p.m. Monday

For the better half of a century, Manuel’s Tavern in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood of Atlanta has been the living room for many Georgians, a welcoming watering hole and meeting hall for artists, lawyers, carpenters, academics, police, actors, activists and journalists. — Those reflective/ nostalgic words were written by longtime regular Manuel’s patron Angelo Fuster, who started a GoFundMe fundraising site.

Manuel Maloof, a fiery politician who was CEO of DeKalb County in the mid-80s and early 90s, created an environment where folks from any walk of life could comfortably sit together and enjoy a beer or burger.

Manuel’s has met many challenges over the years, including changes to the business environment like the Great Recession. They have emerged resilient and successful in every case.

“This time is different,” wrote Fuster in a GoFundMe he started to save his favorite watering hole. “Like many small businesses and family-owned restaurants during this pandemic, Manuel’s is facing the sad reality that within the next few weeks, its doors may have to close forever.”

In response, the community generously opened their wallets and exceeded the goal of $75,000 in less than 24 hours. 

Owner Brian Maloof and Fuster spoke with WABE’s ‘All Things Considered’ host Jim Burress about what the pandemic has meant to the longtime family business.

Another one of Atlanta’s oldest restaurants, The Colonnade, set up a GoFundMe page on Wednesday, with a $100,000 goal.

The Colonnade has been serving Atlanta its fried chicken, warm rolls and traditional Southern fare since 1927. It’s already raised more than $70,000 since it went live.

Owner Jodi Stallings said she wants to make it to 100 years, and she’s grateful for the community support.

Karen Bremer

Karen Bremer is the chief executive officer of the Georgia Restaurant Association, an umbrella agency for more than 500,000 food service workers. She said that’s 11% of Georgia’s workforce.

According to Bremer, the GRA projected restaurants would pull in 25 billion in revenue back before the coronavirus pandemic dished out a heap of trouble for restaurants. Now, she said, that picture looks pretty bleak unless restaurants get some federal aid from the coronavirus stimulus package ahead of 2021.