Taste of the Tour



Jack Nicklaus came for the Gorgonzola salad. Claude Harmon liked his steak medium rare and charred on the outside. Dave Marr always needed two breath mints after he ate the garlic bread.

Every PGA Tour stop has its favorite restaurants and watering holes. Manero’s, located on a sliver of land along the harbor here, was the place to be when the Tour came to nearby Westchester County.

“Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus — half the field would be in there,” says Billy Farrell, the former pro at Stanwich Club in Greenwich for thirty-six years.

The pros have their favorite stories about Manero’s. Nicklaus remembers the time his son Jackie, then four, had a piece of lobster lodged in his throat. Jackie started to turn blue and his eyes rolled back in his head.

“Go get it!” ordered Phil Rodgers, the old pro and Nicklaus’s short-game coach. So Nicklaus slid his hand down his son’s throat and saved the day, only to turn around and find that son Steve had climbed on the table and was munching on his dad’s dinner.

Then there was the time Claude Harmon meant to tuck his napkin in his pants, but he grabbed the tablecloth with it, taking half the dishes with him when he stood up to go to the bathroom. And ten years ago, an elderly, stern-looking man summoned to his table the restaurant’s proprietor, Nick Manero Jr., nephew of 1936 U.S. Open champion Tony Manero. “You don’t know me,” the customer said, “but your uncle spoiled my last chance to win a major, and I’ll never forgive him for it.” And then Hall of Famer Harry Cooper winked.

Many of the pros stayed across the street at the Showboat Hotel for easy access to the restaurant. Former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman first stayed there and dined nightly at Manero’s while teaming with Billy Buppert to win the prestigious Anderson Four-Ball amateur titles at Winged Foot Golf Club in 1958–1959.

“They loved golf. Everyone in Manero’s played golf,” Beman remembers. “You couldn’t go to Mamaroneck and play Winged Foot and not go there. There was no second choice.”

Yet last June, when the tour returned to Winged Foot for the U.S. Open, Manero’s wasn’t even an option. After sixty-two years, the restaurant served its last steak on February 26, 2006.

Manero’s was a real-life Cheers for golfers. Instead of Sam Malone, the former Red Sox pitcher, tending bar, there was Tony Manero, the restaurant’s namesake, holding court as maitre d’. His brother-in-law, Nick Manero Sr., was the lovable “Coach” figure, except with brains. The wait staff was more Italian than Carla Tortelli. Many of them carried golf bags and single-digit handicaps by day, then carried a tune singing “Happy Birthday” to customers by night. Now that it’s gone, those who used to frequent Manero’s feel the same sense of loss as when Cheers went off the air — without the comfort of endless reruns.

“I was planning to go there during the Open for old time’s sake,” says Butch Harmon.

Tony and Agnes, Nick’s sister, met in 1931 and were married fifty-nine years. Coincidentally, they shared the same surname: Mainiero. But like his childhood friend, Gene Sarazen, whose name was changed from Eugenio Saraceni (it sounded more like a violin than a golfer), Tony’s name was simplified to Manero by the media.

“Everyone automatically thought Tony owned the restaurant, but that wasn’t the case. Nick did,” says Dick Manero, Tony’s youngest son. “My dad was a draw. Everyone knew him, and they would come to see him.” In fact, Tony was pathologically shy, says his son. But he was fond of talking about golf and his demeanor brightened when a customer greeted him as “Champ.”

Nick Manero was a sharp businessman. He went to law school and was a legal secretary to New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Nick was a cook during World War II, and when he came home he opened a restaurant, the 19th Hole, named in honor of Tony, below the family’s residence at 537 Steamboat Road. But Nick recognized that Tony’s golf success was good for business, so in 1945 he changed the name to Manero’s to cash in on the name of one of the area’s most popular sports figures.

With his silver hair tucked under his signature oversized chef’s toque, eyes dancing with good humor behind his round glasses, Nick welcomed customers by name with a jolly comment. Sometimes he would borrow a line from the catchy signs adorning the wall, such as “Beautiful women eat steak to stay that way,” “What food these morsels be” and one that had a tantalizing offer: “Free steak for life if you give birth here.”

An endless stream of large groups sat elbow to elbow in the bustling, rough-hewn restaurant. The décor was simple: paper placemats on Formica tables, with black-and-white golf photos hanging on the varnished wood walls.

“It was fashionably shabby,” Dick says with a wry smile and a chuckle. “Dated but lovable.”

 

Greenwich Agenda

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    2014.06.21
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Saturday, June 21 - Monday, September 1 Hidden in the leaves, snug in the trunk or burrowed under the roots, what types of animals actually...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • Exclusive Tour of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery

    2014.09.09
     @ Yale University Art Gallery

    Join JCC Greenwich for an exclusive tour with museum curator Elizabeth Manekin. The collection is noteworthy for exemplary works from the...

  • Understanding the Gaza War: Strategic & Political Implications

    2014.09.09
     @ Greenwich Library, Cole Auditorium

    Dr. Efraim Inbar is a Professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and Director of its renowned Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic...

  • Bruce Museum: Look and See - Into the Deep

    2014.09.10
     @ Bruce Museum

    A program especially designed for children ages 3-5 years and their adult caregivers, who will explore the Museum’s exhibition through...

  • College Admissions Boot Camp | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.13

    College Prep 360 will be offering two college admissions “boot camps” in their Greenwich office over the summer. The first workshop...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Greenwich Area Newcomers Annual Lobster Fest

    2014.09.14
     @ Tod's Point Clambake Area

    This is our kickoff event each year-held at Tod's Point Clambake area. The event is scheduled for Sunday September 14th starting...

  • Information Fair

    2014.09.16
     @ YMCA

    Our Annual Information Fair - This event showcases non profits , community businesses, schools and  services in the Greenwich...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...


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