NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The manager at a midtown diner was left barely recognizable after being assaulted on the job.

The five people accused in the beating are still on the loose.

The beloved night manager at Applejack Diner on Broadway near 55th Street is now recovering from a broken nose, 42 stitches, swollen eyes, and what he says is the trauma of being beaten by five of his customers.

It happened Sunday around to 5 a.m. The 71-year-old told CBS2 over the phone he was trying to protect a handicapped man who came in and was punched by someone from the group.

“I was feeling sorry for the handicapped man because they hit him, all four of them, and I tried to protect him,” the manager said. “All of a sudden I just… somebody hit me in the back, in the front, the nose, and everywhere.”

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Manager at Manhattan’s Applejack Diner after being attacked by five people on Oct. 14. (Credit: CBS2)

One of them even threw a liquor bottle at the manager. A coworker saw the vicious attack unfold.

“These people went outside and they started picking up a chairs and tables from our sidewalk cafe and breaking tables and they tried breaking our windows,” general manager Michael Kalliagas said.

The NYPD released these photos of the suspects – three men and two women – who headed north on Broadway after the melee.

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Images of suspects allegedly involved in a fight at a midtown diner. (credit: NYPD)

Coworkers and customers – who say the staff here are like family – are stunned.

“Everybody’s very sad that this would happen, it’s very surreal the diners been here for 38 years nothing of this sort has ever happened before,” Kalliagas added.

The victim says he’s worked overnights here for the last few years to support his two children going to college.

“(I) came to the United States just to support my family,” the 71-year-old explained.

Diner staff hope the suspects are caught so this can’t happen to anyone again.