Manny’s Grant Park had its grand opening on March 22. Since then, the much anticipated neighborhood bar and restaurant has been overwhelmed by enthusiastic customers, and that quickly resulted in more limited hours and menu offerings in order to keep up with demand.
Conceived by longtime Atlanta barman Manuel Maloof, the build-out anchors the strip of storefronts at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Boulevard that was taken over by Paces Properties — known for developing Krog Street Market, and several other projects along Memorial Drive, including Larkin on Memorial and Atlanta Dairies.
Maloof, who lives nearby, and most recently worked at Trackside Tavern in Decatur and the Basement in East Atlanta, is the grandson of the founder of Manuel’s Tavern. And besides sharing his grandfather’s name, he shares the Maloof family tradition of creating a friendly “go to” place for friends and neighbors to gather.
That’s evident in the throwback design and the reconfiguring of the former Stone Soup Kitchen and No Brakes bicycle shop spaces.
The main room boasts an L-shaped bar that was crafted from mahogany and reclaimed pine and stretches nearly 40 feet. It’s flanked by deep booths with views of a line of TVs that top the back bar. There’s a small game room with darts and old-school arcade favorites. And on the other side, a front nook and narrow dining room feature exposed brick arches and lead to a deck and enclosed patio in back.
“We did everything here,” Maloof said during a recent visit to Manny’s. “They let us do what we wanted to do, so we tore apart and rebuilt everything ourselves, which was pretty much everything but the HVAC, electrical and plumbing.
“We designed this to be a local neighborhood place. I just wanted something comfortable. I didn’t want it to look like we were trying to be something. We were going to let the place be what it was going to be.”
Executive chef Morgan Underwood, who has worked at Wisteria, BeetleCat and other Atlanta restaurants, is in charge of the menu, which includes pub grub staples such as a double-patty flattop burger and fish and chips. But even in its currently abbreviated form, it surprises with fresh soups, salads and vegan and vegetarian options.
Besides wings with sauce choices such as chili lime or General Tso’s, there are crispy cracklings with French onion dip, fried rib tips, and pierogies. A bright mixed green salad comes topped with seasonal veggies and herbs and a seven-minute egg. Vegan sweet potato stew is flavored with coconut milk, peanuts and ginger. And vegetarian stroganoff is made with a mushroom medley, and sage and cream.
“My dad worked at Manuel’s Tavern for over 30 years,” Underwood said. “He was the day manager and bartender way back from the ’70s. I grew up in Inman Park, and Manuel’s was actually the first place I went after I was born, so it’s exciting to be working here and doing the menu here.
“Essentially, this menu is a short-term thing. We didn’t realize what an explosion it was going to be and the kind of volume we were going to be doing. We tried to open with a full menu on the first night, and we had to shut it down because it was just too much. But within the next month, I’m hoping to have a menu change with a lot more items. We’ll be doing a late-night menu, too, with house-made Hot Pockets. And we have a beautiful brunch menu that we’re planning on.”
Like the food menu, the beverage menu ranges from the tried-and-true to more ambitious selections. With 24 taps, draft offerings like Bud Light, PBR and Guinness join Eventide Kolsch, Creature Comforts Tropicalia IPA and Monday Night Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale. And the new-meets-old world wine list is not what you might expect.
“We felt like the neighborhood would support wine,” Maloof said. “We’re in that mid-30s and up, families with kids place. And I know half-a-dozen wine reps who live within a half-mile of here, so we worked with them.”
580 Woodward Ave., Suite C, Atlanta. 470-270-8813, mannysgrantpark.com.
Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Manny’s Grant Park
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