After a temporary break from tradition, the Yankee Doodle restaurant on Elm Street put smiles on the faces of its most loyal fans when it resumed its extended hours last Wednesday.
The restaurant, known affectionately as “the Doodle,” cut back its hours nearly two years ago after its former owner, Lewis Beckwith, became ill. But now the Doodle is again open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.
With one line of stools, a laid-back style, and a menu which has not changed for 53 years, the Doodle has become a staple for Yale students. The Doodle is very much a family business. When Lewis Beckwith could no longer work, his son, current owner Rick Beckwith, took over. Short on staff, Beckwith was forced to cut back restaurant hours. Students requested the Doodle stay open later, but it was not until recently that Beckwith was able to hire a new person to work the grill. With his brother-in-law filling that void, however, Beckwith has extended hours once again.
Many students assumed that this recent change of hours was a direct response to the current strike, but in fact the strike and the extended hours have no correlation; the change of hours was scheduled before the strike began.
Scott Healy ’96, executive director of the Town Green Special Services District, said many people seem to think the strike is going to be the best thing that ever happened to local restaurants. But he said that in fact the strike will be somewhat of a wash for most eateries, as they lose out on the business from Yale workers. Despite the increased demand from students, he said, the actual difference may not be dramatic. Beckwith said that after the strike ends he may change closing time on Sunday from 8 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
For now, Tony Rescigno, president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, said most businesses will do whatever possible to take advantage of the situation.
“This is a law of supply and demand. There are a lot more people on the street looking especially for food services,” Rescigno said. “I think they’re going to what’s right for their businesses.”
But not every restaurant is making changes. Some local establishments do not feel the need to extend hours and are not particularly concerned with the competition the Doodle may create.
George Koutroumanis, co-owner and manager of Yorkside Pizza, said the pizzeria is not considering changing its hours.
“No one’s looking for lunch before 11 [Yorkside's current opening time], and more or less, no one needs food after 2 [Yorkside's current closing time],” Koutroumanis said. “What are we going to do? Change what?”
Healy said the extended hours of the Doodle should not be looked on as a threat to the other restaurants in the area. “The more businesses which are open, the more people on the street, the better all the businesses will do,” Healy said. “From an urban perspective, you want to see as many small businesses open as possible.”
While the extended hours might not have a significant economic impact, they may have what Healy called a “spiritual impact” as the extra light on the street brings more people out and may even encourage other businesses to extend their hours as well.