Emanuel “Manny” Yekutiel has always been busy before big elections. In 2012, he worked on Obama’s reelection campaign (and later interned at the White house), and in 2016 it was the campaign to elect Hillary Clinton. But ahead of Tuesday’s midterm, he’s been occupied with something new: Opening Manny’s, a 3,000-square-foot cafe, bar, bookstore, and civic gathering space at 3092 16th Street. After more than a year of construction on the corner of Valencia (in the former V16 Sushi space), Manny’s will greet its first customer on November 6th.
That timing isn’t just fitting, but intentional: Yekutiel envisions Manny’s as just the kind of place you’d want to watch election results roll in. It’s “a new physical place to go to become a better informed and more involved citizen,” he says.
In an era when most of us engage with the news alone (Yekutiel gestures to his phone) he wants to bring people together to commiserate and organize in real life. “There’s something necessary about an in-person connection,” he says.
It’s that need that brought more than 1,000 people together to help him work on the space, he believes — and what inspired donors to give more than $75,000 to the project on Kickstarter.
Nearby bookstore Dog Eared books will provide Manny’s with political reading material, stocking floor-to-ceiling shelves in a central bookstore space. Food offerings will be implicitly political, too, according to Kevin Madrigal, co-founder and culinary director of Farming Hope. His nonprofit — which provides transitional work in its gardens and training in the culinary industry to people experiencing homelessness and poverty — will handle the menu at Manny’s.
“When people buy something here, they’ll be supporting what we do [at Farming Hope], whether knowingly or unknowingly,” Madrigal says.