Manny’s in the Mission holds socially-distanced dining and phone-banking event


David Nguyen

Manny’s restaurant and venue held a phone banking event on November 3, 2020, before hosting a dinner event with an inflatable screen to watch the general election results in real-time. (David Nguyen/Golden Gate Xpress)

Manny’s, a restaurant and event space in the Mission district of San Francisco, is currently serving customers an Election Night Dining Experience, complete with food, music and an inflatable screen to watch the general election results in real-time.

To provide more room for polling spaces and other election day events, 15th to 16th street are closed to vehicular traffic. Manny’s event is taking place outside and following social distancing protocol to the best of their ability, including requiring masks to be worn at all times, except for while eating and drinking, and asking those in attendance to remain seated at their tables the whole event.

“We were tired of the Zoom events, and we didn’t wanna do any more. And we sat in this circle, lit a bunch of candles, and just brainstormed a ton of things,” Manny Yekutiel, owner of Manny’s, said. “We came up with a bunch of ideas as a team … and one of the ideas was turning what was outdoor dining into an outdoor campaign office.” 

According to the event page, 50% of the profits from the event will be donated to the Roxie, a local independent theater which many consider an important part of the Mission community. As the theater is one of the oldest film establishments in the city.

Megan Carlson, film producer and San Francisco resident, said she is working to ensure Biden and Harris are elected. Carlson went on to say that, “I realize we’re fully a blue state in California, but I feel some states are not, and the election hinges on that.” 

Phone banking volunteer Namoi Shah said this election is especially important because, “Your neighbors, your family members, literally everything is at stake.” (David Nguyen/Golden Gate Xpress)

“The purpose of Manny’s is to create physical space around political engagement,” Yekutiel said. “[Phone banking is] what we would’ve been doing inside, if there wasn’t a pandemic.”

This election cycle, Carlson phone-banked from home, texting and calling voters in swing states like Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania with her two teenage sons, although she hasn’t yet received a response.

“I think everything is at stake,” Namoi Shah said, a phone banking volunteer. “Everything as globally, Our relationships internationally, local, policies that are being made for healthcare and social justice issues. Your neighbors, your family members, literally everything is at stake.”

Poll inspector Jay Nargundkar could not comment on his personal opinions on the election, although he said he is enjoying his first time volunteering as a poll worker.

“This summer has demonstrated the need for more active engagement from people,” he said.

“This seemed like one good way of doing that, one way that is sustainable and isn’t tied to one particular candidate, one particular administration,” Nargundkar said. “This is a building block of the democratic process.”