Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Remembering Manatus

With Pride upon us, Manatus has been on my mind, that long-time go-to spot for the LGBTQ communities, unceremoniously shuttered in April, possibly to make room for Calvin Klein. I went by and peeked in the window. Everything is gone. It's still a heartbreak.

Reader Lee Magill sends in this painful shot of the sign being scraped from the bricks last week:

From the few reports that came in, the final night at Manatus was a quiet one. They hadn't announced it, so only a handful of people knew about the closure.

Reader Elizabeth wrote in to say "negotiations with the landlord stalled" a few days before the beloved diner shuttered. "He wants $50,000 for the space. Long-time customers are bereft! Jimmy, the owner, and Eleni, longtime waitress turned manager, patiently took pictures with us and even shed some tears with us as well."

Reader Andy sent in a video of the quiet last moments, and described the final night:

"When my friend, Tina, and I walked in, there were people at four other tables. I think I can safely assume they were gay male pairings (not sure they were 'couples' in the romantic sense). It was rather empty.

I ordered a burger, but they were out of burger buns, so I had it on a roll. My friend Tina had the last slice of cheesecake. There was a woman there with a camera set up on a tripod, but we didn't ask who she was. She left before us. The waitress seemed quite ready to close it up. She was talkative, but didn't say much to shed light on the location's future.

An elderly slender trans woman with a Chanel necklace and delicate feathered hat made the final rounds, going from table to table. When she got to us, she told us about Calvin Klein, but I'm not sure what her source was. The rest of the conversation with her was about Tina wanting to move to San Francisco because New York City is 'dead' (which I don't agree with, btw)."

The Calvin Klein rumor came from me, supplied by a neighboring shopkeeper last summer. It has not been confirmed, but on the Gold Coast of Bleecker, it's completely possible.

Reader David went by after the closure and snapped a photo of the goodbye note on the door. It remains there today. But not for long.

Manatus Vanishing
Manatus to close?
Lunch at Manatus
Bleecker Timeline
Bleecker's Luxe Blitz


Anonymous said...

This is heartbreaking. Me and my friends have been coming here for years, especially after the Halloween parade. The food wasn't anything spectacular but the prices were reasonable, and the people really friendly. Now all me and my friends have left is Sammy's, on 6th Ave. When that is gone I know it will be time to leave town. There's no place for me here anymore.

Thank you, Manatus, for the memories. You are sorely missed.

Yank said...

So, so sad.

Mark said...

Eateries populated by gay men are as rare as they once were plentiful in the West Village. In the last decade or so, we lost Fedora, Casa di Pre, Astray Cafe, The Sazerac House, Mary's and so many others. We have few neighborhood options left available to us.

Anonymous said...

Manatus was literally the last gasp for that part of Bleeker St. All the oddball charm is gone: Condomania, The Paris Commune, The "smelly" used bookstore, Kim's, the little magazine shops/bodegas, etc.. ALL GONE. The area's only function now is as a tourist destination for the rich and (celebrity) gawking. It's beyond sad. Yes, the food wasn't great at Manatus, but the place had a coziness to it and the staff were friendly. But one didn't eat there for the food, you ate there to people watch/eavesdrop which was always entertaining. One of the last times I ate there (Oct 2013), my friend and I were laughing so hard we were crying at the action all around us. You can't find that sort of "free" entertainment in the city anymore. It's all so sterile. What's happened to the village is tragic. Manatus will be missed.

tina benez said...

Slow curtain the end..of New York as we knew it. Even my poor cheesecake looked naked, bare, stripped. Not even a single strawberry in the joint to dress her up for the going away party. And Andy's sad bunless burger. I hear they still have strawberries in San Francisco! :D

Martin said...

I met my life partner at Manatus back in 1976 on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Thank You Manatus

Walter said...

Before Manatus, it was the legendary Jazz Club called Bboomers. (That's how it was spelled, like a B flat) The people buying and moving into luxury condos hoping to catch a vibe of the cool old New York are ironically destroying it. I feel sorry for all the people losing a cherished hangout.

Walter said...

PS: The street should be renamed Bleaker Street.

Walter said...

To Mark 12:48PM: Was the 'Mary's' you referred to on Bedford Street (I believe) and it had an upstairs dining room that made you feel you were in someone's apartment? Downstairs it felt like you were in their kitchen? If yes, thanks for bringing back countless memories. I always took my girlfriends there for dinner. (Never had that many, but they always fell in love with the place and wanted to keep going back. Which we did)

Anonymous said...

Marys was great as was their sister restaraunt a couple doors down universal grill

historyglass said...

Soon there will be nothing left for you to report on as everything original is almost gone.
You can't really do a story on a Ralph Lauren store closing can you? Because in the end it will be all banks, nail salons and Ralph Lauren stores.

David said...

Living next door between Manatus and the old Cucina Della Fontana (anyone remember? Became the horrible Hue, then Juicy Couture, now also sitting empty) one always remembers how tenuous is the thread on which are village institutions survive on.

Unknown said...

Hello? cucuna della fontana still open?