And on Monday, the bar was blessed.
About 50 people — Maloof family members, local residents, even a few reporters — came to Manuel’s Tavern Monday for a blessing over the establishment. (The ashes of founding brother Robert Maloof were also present.)
Manager Brian Maloof had put out an invitation on Facebook but didn’t expect such a turnout.
“I am blown away by the attendance,” he told the crowd. “I really thought it was just going to be a few employees, a couple of hardcore customers and my immediate family. I am moved to tears.”
The process of renewing Manuel’s, he said, has been “full of miracles.”
“When I thought the whole process was going to collapse, somewhere out of left field, something miraculous happened,” he said. “I tried and wondered my whole life what that is that does that, and in my adult life I figured out it’s the blessings of God.”
Rt. Rev. Archimandrite John Azar, from Atlanta’s St. John Chrysostom Melkite Catholic Church, gave the blessing.
A blessing over a bar? It’s not unusual, said Fr. Azar.
“When Jesus was on earth, he went everywhere,” he said. “He went everywhere where people were.”
And Manuel’s is, after all, a home for community and friendship. I talked to Carapace’s Joyce Mitchell and Randy Osborne. They met at Manuel’s; it’s “our special place,” they said. (I can relate; it’s where I met my wife, who was the roommate of one of my Team Trivia scorekeepers.) The fact that 50 people showed up at 10 o’clock on a steamy, nondescript Monday morning to welcome a still-unfinished version of Manuel’s says volumes about the place it has in the city’s heart.
As the days count down towards the August 6 re-opening, there are a few things left to be done. The air conditioning wasn’t on yet, making the bottled water provided by the Tavern as much of a blessing as Fr. Azar’s prayer. Workers are putting the finishing touches on one of the dining rooms. The bar needs to hire more staff. And there are still the paintings and pennants and paraphernalia.
But, soon enough, Manuel’s will be back open for business. That’s a blessing in itself.
Update, 2:09 p.m.: Brian emails to say the A/C is now on. Praise be — to Willis Carrier.