The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to close Manuel’s Tavern, but the community is rallying to save the beloved watering hole by donating more than $100,000 in a matter of hours.

In less than 24 hours of the creation of a GoFundMe fundraiser by patron Angelo Fuster, nearly $110,000 had been raised  with donations still pouring in. The original goal was $75,000.

It’s a testament to how much people love the Poncey-Highland institution.

Recently added to the National Register of Historic Places and a mainstay of politicians, journalists, and locals for 64 years, Manuel’s was closed for several months at the onset of the pandemic. Although Manuel’s reopened for takeout in May, created a makeshift patio in its back parking lot, reduced hours, and expanded takeout business has been off

Owner Brian Maloof said plainly in a Dec. 3 Facebook post that Manuel’s is in “financial trouble.”

“For 8 months Manuel’s has taken every course of action known and attempted everything we have been advised to do to save this business,” Maloof wrote. “After everything that has been cut and saved and attempted, we find ourselves still very cash short. I informed the staff of our situation two days ago. Their responses have been heartwarming, supportive, and motivating. They love Manuel’s as much as I do.”

Maloof, the son of founder and namesake Manuel Maloof, said Manuel’s has had an average reduction in sales of 62 percent per month.

“We have been spending cash reserves to make up the average $25,000.00 a month shortage. Currently, we have no more reserves. Without a cash injection, we will be forced to close for good,” Maloof wrote.

Maloof said Manuel’s received a loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, but that cash infusion was gone. Since Congress has stalled on approving additional stimulus funding, Manuel’s and many other restaurants and businesses across the country are hanging by a financial thread.

The fundraiser will pay for the liquor licenses, insurance, and cover payroll, Maloof said.

To make a donation, visit this link:

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.