I'm impressed to see a bar that lasts for five years around here. Competition, property prices, changing tastes must make it difficult to survive, and keep a steady and loyal clientele.
All the more reason, then, to pay tribute to Manuel's Tavern, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week. (They're celebrating with $1.50 pints and $1 "loaded hot dogs," which include chili, cheese, sauerkraut, onion, relish and cole slaw. That's a right proper way to celebrate.)
Manuel's isn't all about beer and heart-destroying food, though. As loath as I am to get all misty-eyed about tradition, Manuel's is ... about tradition. The only comparable bar I can think of is Chicago's Billy Goat. It's an institution. Some of the stuff on the walls (including a filthy Atlanta Flames pennant) has been there for decades. Some of the regulars have been there that long, too.
The web site says something to the effect of -- Manuel's is a place where people of all walks of life rub elbows. The cliche is true. Decades of political and business deals have gone down here. It's a journalists' bar. It's a working man's bar. A place to watch sports. A place to gather with friends. A place to wonder why the hell there are playing cards and dollar bills stuck to the ceiling.
Manuel's was my first bar in Atlanta. The first night I was here, not knowing anyone in town, I made my way to Manuel's, and fell in love immediately. I'm a packrat by nature, and Manuel's has applied that ethos to decorating the place. It's also, if not immediately friendly, welcoming and comfortable.
Over the years, my Manuel's attendance has slipped -- but recently, I've been going more often. It's a rare treasure. Bars like this aren't going to come along any more.