Tag Archives: Manuel’s Tavern

Relax, Atlanta: Manuel’s Tavern Isn’t Going Anywhere

In the video, spokesman Angelo Fuster clears up the confusion about Manuel’s. 

Manuel's Tavern, Atlanta, bar, institution

Manuel’s Tavern on the corner of North and Highland is an institution. People ask me where I live, and I say, “Near Manuel’s,” and they say, “Oh, yeah, I love that place.”

Facebook and Twitter were all abuzz this morning over news about beloved Manuel’s Tavern being closed to make room for a new development on the corner of Highland and North avenues.

I was confused by the articles (from Creative Loafing, the Business Chronicle and the AJC) as well as the response from people on social media. I saw responses slamming the “news” as just one more example of how we don’t value anything here in Atlanta, how we toss aside our institutions for something new and shiny.

Those reactions didn’t jibe with how I took it, as a reasonable approach to improving and preserving an old spot that’s on a prime corner of real estate — especially after reading owner Brian Maloof‘s Facebook statement.

So I walked the two blocks down to Manuel’s for chili and a grilled cheese, and to get it clear for myself.

“This building is going to be here. This place is going to be here just as you see it now,” spokesman and longtime Maloof family friend Angelo Fuster told me. “This bar is gonna be here. These booths are gonna be here. Those walls are gonna be here.”

Seems this is just another example of people reacting on social media to headlines, assuming the worst, and popping off emotional responses. (Scroll down this Twitter feed to see some examples. There were plenty more on Facebook — “sad,” “end of an era,” etc…)

Manuel's Tavern, Atlanta, bar, institution

Where everybody knows your name…

The business remains with Maloof, son of the late founder Manuel Maloof, Fuster said. The property was sold, from Manuel’s Properties to Green Street Properties. The plan allows for a four-story development on the 1.6 acres but doesn’t mandate one, Fuster said. The new buildings will go where the large parking lots are now.

In his statement, Maloof said,

The land sale is part of a partnership deal with Green Street Properties to renovate our building on North Ave. and North Highland Ave., refurbish the tavern and also develop a neighborhood-scale, mixed-use development on the immediately surrounding property.

Under the agreement, I will continue to be the sole owner of Manuel’s, Green Street will become our landlord, and the tavern will have a long-term lease at its present site.

The sale will allow much-needed structural updates to the building, which is about 100 years old and has been home to Manuel’s since 1956. The bar will be closed during renovations for about three months next year.


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Celebrating a Beloved Bookstore’s 25 Years

“We don’t want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods.” — Roy Blount, Jr.

A Capella Books, Atlanta, bookstore, independent, Little Five Points, Inman Park, bookshop, books, out of print books, hard to find books, 25th anniversary, 25 years,

From Kurt Cobain to Flaubert… and lots more.

Like newspapers and the music business, bookstores everywhere have taken an evolutionary hit in the digital age. Many have folded up, including all the Borders chain and Atlanta’s Outwrite.

But A Cappella Books continues to give bibliophiles reason to hope — and to spend money. On Friday, the independent shop celebrated 25 years in business with a reception at The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and a party afterward at Manuel’s Tavern.

It was also a launch of a new book about the shop, featuring some of the city’s top writers, called “A Cozy Infinity.”

‘I Like Seeing the Good Guys Win’

A Capella Books, Atlanta, bookstore, independent, Jimmy Carter, Manuel's Tavern, Inman Park, Little Five Points

Owner Frank Reiss

Throughout the years and changing marketplace, owner Frank Reiss has moved the store to a few locations in the Little Five Points/Inman Park area. He’s adapted nimbly from his original focus on hard-to-find and out-of-print books. Now he has added more online sales, more events with authors, and selling more signed copies.

The first two locations were in the heart of Little Five Points, with heavy foot traffic and lots of stores and restaurants around. Now, he’s in a more isolated spot nearby that’s right up against busy DeKalb Avenue.

“This isn’t the story that everybody thinks of, this romantic haven for reading,” he says. “It is in a way. But it’s been a hustle, a lot of strategic business decisions to survive and do OK. So that’s what the story really is.”

Reiss has built the kind of goodwill that local merchants dream of.

A Capella Books, Atlanta, bookstore, independent, Little Five Points, Inman Park, bookshop, books, out of print books, hard to find books, 25th anniversary, 25 years,

A clean, well-lighted place for books…

“It was a great pleasure to pay tribute to one of the world’s nicest people who, as a bookseller, also happens to be raising the knowledge/intelligence/enlightenment quotient of the greater Atlanta region,” said Hank Klibanoff, a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution managing editor and contributor to the book. “From some great authors, you could feel the enormous rush of love for Frank and his support for their work. It was one of those start-to-finish feel good evenings.”

And from a fan on Facebook, Noel Mayeske: “I like seeing the good guys win.  Great job Frank on building a book store Atlanta loves, and enduring through some very changing times over 25 years. Here’s to many more!”

And it’s not just anybody who can score a presidential library and Manuel’s on the same night.

Let Him Tell His Own Story

I could write a recap of the store’s history. But this is really good, from the store’s website:

When A Cappella Books first opened its doors in Little Five Points in 1989, there was no Amazon. For all intents and purposes there was no internet. Barnes & Noble had not even arrived in Atlanta. Oxford Books dominated the local retail book landscape, with another newcomer, Chapter 11, nipping at its heels. Only a few years later, Oxford had succumbed to its newfangled competition. In several more years, Chapter 11 was bankrupt.

A Capella Books, A Cozy Infinit, Atlanta, Inman Park, Little Five Points, Independents bookstore, books, Frank Reiss, Jimmy Carter, Manuel's Tavern

25 Years, 25 Writers

A quarter century–and three re-locations–later, A Cappella is still going strong, and, while still hardly bigger physically than its original incarnation, the little store plays a big role in the local literary scene, presenting important authors and selling books at venues all over town.

To celebrate its longevity, A Cappella is publishing a book: A Cozy Infinity: 25 (Mostly) Atlanta Writers on the Never-Ending Allure of Books and Bookstores. Contributors to the volume include Pulitzer Prize-winner Hank Klibanoff, former Atlanta Magazine editor Rebecca Burns, James Beard award-winning food writer John T. Edge, popular columnist Hollis Gillespie and celebrated local novelists Thomas MullenSusan Rebecca WhiteAnthony Grooms, and Joseph Skibell. The book’s title comes from one of the 25 essays contained in it, penned by Esquire staff writer and Atlanta resident Tom Junod

Reiss ended up writing more of “A Cozy Infinity” than he had planned.

“It’s where I tell the story of how I got into the book business and started the bookstore here in Atlanta and figured out a way to keep doing it for 25 years,” he said.

Smaller Stores Are Doing Better

The American Booksellers Association, which represents independent bookstores, says its membership grew 6.4 percent in 2013, to 2,022. Sales were up 8 percent in 2012, and those gains held last year, The Washington Post reported in an article citing a resurgence of independents.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement, but not everything is doom and gloom for America’s bookstores,” reported The Open Education Database.

In 2013, Publisher’s Weekly ranked Georgia as 18th among states for book sales. The state had 252 independent bookstores.

Others that have made the most of their niche include Charis Books & More in Little Five Points, with a focus on women, and Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, which sells children’s books.

Let me know about others, and share your stories and support for A Cappella and other independent bookstores. At this time of year, when we’re all out there shopping, it’s good to keep local independent merchants of all kinds in mind.

(Click on a photo to see it bigger. Mouse over for captions.)

A Cappella Books, 208 Haralson Ave. N.E., 404-681-5128, Sunday noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. acapellabooks.com