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All in the Family

The Marcheses serve up a century of tradition at Troy landmark Manory’s

by Molly Eadie on March 28, 2013

 

When the Manory family opened their restaurant in 1913, they might not have thought that 100 years later, it would be Troy’s oldest restaurant . And even if they could have imagined Twitter, they couldn’t have known that their #cinnamonbuns would be the most Tweeted about in the city.

The landmark establishment was originally a confectionery, candy store and ice cream shop. Over the years, it morphed into the luncheonette it is today.

A cool century: Anthony and Louis Marchese Jr. photographed by Molly Eadie

“We serve everyone from local judges, construction workers,” says owner Louis Marchese, Jr., “and everybody in between.”

In 1991, Louis, fresh out of college, and his father bought the restaurant from Anthony Manory. While Louis’ father continued working at Norton Company in Watervliet for a few years until retirement, Louis’ wife, Jennifer, quit her job to come work at Manory’s.

While the Manory family is no longer involved, the Marchese family kept the Manory name along with the idea of a family-run business. Lou’s father died in 2006, but Lou, his wife and co-owner Jennifer, and their two children call the restaurant a second home.

“We’re here every day, says Lou. “There’s always a family member here. The family eats here, and we take extreme pride in what we’re doing and what we’re sending out.”

They were no strangers to the place when they bought it 22 years ago. Louis Marchese Sr. worked in the ice cream section of Manory’s as a teenager in the 1950s. His son remembers Sunday morning breakfasts there following mass at St. Anthony’s.

Now Lou and Jennifer’s son, Anthony, 20, a student at Siena, works in the restaurant, mostly on weekends. Their daughter, Julianna, 15, will be joining them this summer.

Jennifer handles the extremely active Twitter and Facebook accounts, teasing followers and friends with tempting photos of dishes daily. Dry-erase boards on the walls encourage diners to Tweet about their meal and tag #manorys. Customers gladly play along, with college students from RPI and Russell Sage praising their Hangover Burger (with bacon, egg and cheese) or Trojan Omlette.

While the Hangover Burger, Buffalo chicken wrap, and other contemporary items have been added to the menu, most old-fashioned favorites, like Classic Paddy Melt, have stayed. Home fries and gravy, the Big Breakfast and other breakfast dishes (available all day) have helped the restaurant land second for Best Breakfast in Metroland’s Readers’ Poll this year.

Regarded as a landmark by locals, Manory’s has also served famous guests: then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, actress Michelle Pfeiffer, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The back wall is full of framed photographs, and resembles a grandmother’s living-room family tree. Many are black-and-white scenes of Troy over the last century, landmarks and people who have come and gone.

In 1913, the same year Manory’s was founded, Charles Freihofer opened a baking plant in Troy and began distributing bread by horse and buggy, and began doing business with Manory’s. Today Freihofer’s delivers to Manory’s (by truck) four times a week. Lou says Freihofer’s is planning on handing out treats on horse and buggy in front of the store sometime this spring to celebrate their century of working together.

Manory’s buys goods from other local companies as well. While they bake their own muffins and other baked goods, their rolls and pastries come from Bella Napoli in Latham, and their meat and produce is regionally sourced.

“Everything is homemade, everything is fresh, none of the packaged products,” says Lou.

“Not frozen, not processed,” Jennifer adds.

If you don’t believe them, you can see for yourself: The cooking area is located right in the open, with grilling visible from the counter and sizzling audible from any table.

The menu changes daily. A recent addition is a new line of hotcakes—including raspberry granola crunch, peanut butter chocolate chip, butterscotch, white chocolate macadamia, Boston cream and carrot cake. These flavors were thought up by Jennifer and Anthony.

“I thought, ‘What would I want in a pancake?’” says Jennifer. “Let’s put a blueberry muffin in a pancake, somehow.”

Free rein to come up with new inventions and experiment with new creations is one thing that sets a family restaurant like Manory’s apart from chain diners.

“As many chains as there are and some people are threatened by them, they don’t even bother me because I feel like they have nothing on us at all,” says Lou. “They’re newer, they’re cleaner, they’re fancier, they’re brighter, but that’s about the extent of it.”

“When you own something, you just love it,” says Jennifer. “It’s your baby.”