Manayunk – An Honest Opinion

A year ago I wrote this post which gave a review of each of the bars in Manayunk. At this point of my life, I’ve been in Manayunk too long. I know bartenders at almost every bar. The 2am vendors all know my drunk mannerisms and think I’m a goofball. Manayunk has both its ups and downs and I think my opinion is as good as anyone else. The following paragraphs will contain my evaluations of the past, the present and a vision for the future of Manayunk.

If you are not a bar in Manayunk, you’d be foolish to open up a business here. If one of the most popular bars can’t pay it’s rent, I can’t imagine how other places are staying alive. It tries to be an upscale shopping boutique but the reality is it’s just a place to get wasted on the weekends. Nothing more. The stores on Main St tend to cater to specific audiences. There’s the Vamp store, the herbal remedy store, the out of place pet shop. In the 4 years I’ve been here stores come and go like Cwands in the night. It’s not a posh part of Philly and it houses a lot of students / young professionals who aren’t spending money on anything but alcohol. I think the bars have a tough time as well. I see the owners of bars bartending. That wouldn’t happen if they were making enough money to hire people. I do think there are a couple of places who have the right idea:

Machismo – This is a local burrito place that stays open late night to serve the drunks at 2 am. They seem to have really bizarre hours at night and sometimes they are there and sometimes they aren’t. The burrito’s usually hit the spot though and leave you feeling awful when you wake up.

Frak’s – What’s used to be Duff’s is now Frak’s. They serve cheesesteaks and are open late night. I had a bad experience one time when I was wasted and it was too crowded and I ordered no onions and got onions but it’s still has the right idea staying open late to serve the obnoxious.

Kildares – I’m adding Kildares because I think it’s improving from the last time I wrote an entry about it. Whether they can pay their bills or not is not my problem. I’ve noticed they added better specials. You can now find 2 dollar Miller Lights all day on Thursday, $3 dollar rotating taps which is my personal favorite, and other specials which are way better than what I wrote about a year ago. I had a bbq bacon burger last night and it was well done. We spent 80 bucks between 3 people for food and some drinks which is still on the high side but it was decent.

Mad River – This is my obligatory Mad River shout out. I haven’t been visiting as frequently but I still see them constantly updating their facebook with events. They do the best job of alerting people what’s happening at their bar and I still find their drink specials to be some of the best in the area. The crowd has been pretty so-so during the summer. The deck is nice but for some reason the outside bar with the TV setup isn’t utilized enough. My favorite bartender in the entire universe still works there so I make sure this bar the proper attention.

I wanted to take one paragraph and write about something that I know pretty well, running in the Yunk. This really is a good place to run. The hills are challenging and I have about 4 different routes that I do and there’s also a track less than a mile away from where I live. On long runs I have a 13 mile out and back to the art museum. I have an Umbria loop which is great training for hills. I sort of dislike the towpath for some reason because I feel like I could get jumped any time. Plus Valley Green is only a 10 minute drive. When I move out, I’m going to miss these types of runs.

I do have a couple of ideas of how to be successful in the Yunk. CHEAP BEER. The guy at Kildares says that they don’t give cheap beer specials to keep out the riff-raff. NEWSFLASH – Manayunk is full of only riff raff. Get people in your bar. I don’t care if you have to buy a keg and sell red cups. You want people in your bar because people can spend money. Empty rooms can’t. Another good note is that drunk people lose appreciation of the dollar and a good idea is to end specials at 11pm. Once they are drunk, they will spend anything. I also find that open spaces is essential to a good time. The close quartered bars just aren’t where it’s at. A good staff is also one of the most important things. There’s a reason people like certain bars and it probably has less to do with the setup and more to do with the people serving you drinks. I think bars don’t put enough emphasis on this. A bartender needs to be more than someone who serves you drinks. Their personality is what is selling the establishment. It’s what keeps you coming back. Upper management doesn’t understand this important concept, if the bartender gives you a free drink or discounts your meal, the customer doesn’t forget it. The amount of money you get from repeat business offsets any small loss for that particular time. Plus advertising and getting your name out there with a good product is really all it takes.

There you go, if you want to know the scoop on Manayunk, I think I outlined some decent thoughts. All in all its not a bad place to live. The rent is cheap, the location is ideal for traveling to the city and the suburbs, there’s always something to do. My experience has been favorable. Plus living here has kept me away from drinking and driving because everything is walking distance. I find it hard to ever call Manayunk “my home” but I’ve still had some good memories.