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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Doodle's song not over yet

Eatery may not be dead yet
By Randall Beach
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN
— While a New York City architect has declared the effort to reopen the Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop over, another Yale alumnus who has been working to resurrect the place vowed he and others will carry on.
Rick Beckwith, who operated the coffee shop, also said Tuesday that plans for a new restaurant are moving forward.
Phillip McKee III had a vigorous rebuttal when asked about comments architect Richard Nash Gould made in the Yale Daily News.
According to that newspaper’s “Commencement Issue,” Gould said he and about five other Yale alumni gave up the idea of resurrecting the Doodle, which Beckwith closed suddenly Jan. 29 after 58 years of serving eggs and burgers on Elm Street. Beckwith’s father and grandfather preceded him there.
Gould was quoted saying reopening is impossible because “the responsibility isn’t there.”
But McKee said Tuesday, “Five of the 15 of us gave up. Gould likes to think of himself as the head of the Doodle group. But he’s not the absolute head of it. There are still some of us working on it.” McKee said there are “differences in philosophy” between the two groups. “The question is, who should be in control of the Doodle after it opens?” he noted. “Some of us, including me, believe Rick needs to be in charge.”
In an apparent reference to the Gould group, McKee said, “Some are thinking about it in Wall Street terms, purely business terms. The rest of us think of it in more charitable terms: not just saving the Doodle, but also the Beckwiths. We look at it as friends of the Beckwiths.”
Beckwith said he also was very surprised to learn about Gould’s comments. “There still are investors who are deeply involved in this,” Beckwith said. “It’s definitely not dead. It’s the farthest thing from dead. It’s still going forward.”
“The Doodle is going to reopen,” Beckwith said. “Everybody wanted it to open in two months. But that’s not possible.”
Beckwith praised Gould for his design of a new Doodle, which would be larger than the original 12-stool eatery. “The new place has been picked out and, to the best of my knowledge, it is still readily available,” Beckwith said. “They’re just waiting for the information to be given to them.”
He said the property is owned by Yale and is near the old Doodle site, but he would not specify its location.
Beckwith closed the Doodle amid a lease dispute with his long-time landlord, Tyco, which does business next door.
After McKee made his initial comments about Gould’s departure, he added, “There’s nothing wrong with any of those five people; Gould did what he thought was right. I just don’t agree with their decision.”
In an e-mail message to the New Haven Register Tuesday, Gould noted he had told the Yale newspaper, “The Doodle effort I was involved with had collapsed. I hear that others may or may not be still trying to resuscitate it.” Gould said in terms of a renewed effort, “I know nothing and don’t care to know any more about the situation. In my view, it is a lost cause and not worthy of any more effort.”
But McKee said of Beckwith, “As long as he has friends and hope in his heart and a willingness to work, he can succeed. Rick has all three of those. I see a man who has the ingredients of success.”
Randall Beach can be reached at rbeach@nhregister.com or 789-5766.

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