I’ve only been in the Peter McManus Cafe, at 7th Avenue and W. 19th, once — in 1993, I had just gotten out of class at the School of Visual Arts, went in and called a friend to meet me there, whence we went to see The Fugitive, the Harrison Ford version. (I had a splitting headache that day.)
McManus looks as if it has been here forever, but it isn’t nearly as old as, say, the Old Town Bar or the granddaddy, McSorley’s Ale House. It has been owned and operated by the McManus family since it opened in 1936.
Unfortunately the property on which the venerable wateringhole has been sold and so, McManus will eventually have to close. Word came late in 2016 that the McManus family has a one-year lease, and so the bar has at least one more year, but all bets are off after that.
There is much to love about this place. It’s one of the last authentic New York spots left in Chelsea to get a meal or a drink in a warm and friendly atmosphere. It is still family owned. It makes one of New York’s best burgers. The jukebox is good, filled with classics. The owners even host a day of stickball for the neighborhood every summer, with free beer and food and donations to pediatric cancer research.
Plus: They recently featured a Trump sandwich made of “white bread, full of boloney, with Russian dressing and small pickle.”
If that’s not enough, if you need more reason to love Peter McManus, the place itself is gorgeous, full of antique stained glass and ephemera.
As I described it in 2008, it has all the things that are good about a bar: wood worn smooth by countless elbows, a warm amber glow, crazy but friendly barflies who look as if they’ve been pickled in the place, which they have. [Vanishing New York]