Tyco retracts offer of Doodle grace period

The latest move in the strategic game of chess between Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop owner Rick Beckwith and Tyco owner Mike Iannuzzi seems to have resulted in a stalemate.

Less than 48 hours after Iannuzzi, the co-landlord of Doodle’s 240-square-feet space, announced it would provide a two-month grace period for the restaurant to reopen, he has reneged the offer, citing irreconcilable differences and Beckwith’s public criticism of Tyco’s efforts.

New Haven’s Fife and Drum Regiment shows its support for the Doodle on Feb. 3. Tyco on Thursday retracted an offer to the diner’s owner for a two-month grace period.
Grant Smith
New Haven’s Fife and Drum Regiment shows its support for the Doodle on Feb. 3. Tyco on Thursday retracted an offer to the diner’s owner for a two-month grace period.

“Any and all of our attempts to help the Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop were always done with the best intentions in mind,” Iannuzzi wrote in an e-mail Wednesday night. “But … there is no more that we can do, or will do, over the next two months. As a result, it is best for us to part ways at this time and we wish Rick the very best in the future.”

Late Thursday night, Beckwith shot back in his most strongly worded statement yet, referring to “Tyco’s harsh conditions.”

“For years Tyco has refused to offer a reasonable lease,” he wrote. “If it really cared about saving the Doodle, Tyco would focus on that, because it’s something only it can do to protect the Doodle’s historic location. Tyco won’t even discuss changing the lease’s above-market rent, illegalities and draconian provisions.”

According to organizers of the “Save the Doodle” effort, the central issue behind the recent fallout was a disagreement about the rent and lease contract. But from Tyco’s perspective, the Doodle’s response to the two-month grace period clearly indicated Beckwith’s inflexibility in resolving the financial and business issues at hand.

During interviews with the News both before and after his retraction of the two-month offer, Iannuzzi said any demands levied on him by Beckwith — including those related to changing the lease agreement — were inappropriate and unnecessary.

“I had given them two months, and the immediate reaction was a negative response, as well as putting demands on me,” Iannuzzi said. “Once that was done, it told me we weren’t going to go anywhere with this, and to continue the bickering and all … it was time to end it at that point.”

All hope is not lost for butterbun lovers — Tyco could change its mind once more and, if that falls through, Bruce Alexander, Vice President of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, offered the University’s help in finding a new location — but Doodle doubters are raising another question altogether: whether Beckwith wants to carry on at all.

Three days after the Doodle closed, Iannuzzi sent Phillip McKee ’94, a personal friend of the Beckwiths, a message in which he outlined his view on the reasons for the Doodle’s downfall. Iannuzzi listed several questions he thought were more relevant to the Doodle’s closing than the issue of high rent rates. Among them, he asked what Beckwith’s personal reasons might have been for closing the Doodle, suggesting that Beckwith had been considering selling the Doodle to another owner.

“Within the past year, he was entertaining the thought,” Iannuzzi said. “He had indicated that he would look to sell it, I think if he had the opportunity. It could have just been talk … but it was certainly conversation.”

And three months before the Doodle’s closing in October, the News has learned, Katherine Wells ’08 wrote a profile of the Doodle and Beckwith’s role as its proprietor for a class. From her research, Wells said it seemed like the Doodle was becoming a financial struggle for Beckwith to keep open.

“He said that he would never want [his kids] to take over the business, and he didn’t think he was going to pass it on to anyone else,” Wells said. “Either he was going to make it work, or he was going to close it.”

But in an interview, Beckwith pushed back with a clarification.

“I never wanted to close the restaurant,” he said. “They might have come to that assumption, probably based on my body language or what have you. … Leading up to the time when it did close, it was very, very difficult … [but] I wouldn’t be up literally 18 to 20 hours a day answering e-mails, talking to people, if I didn’t want to do this.”

He said that if his children wished to continue the Doodle tradition in the family, they would be able to do so. But, he said, he had no intention of forcing the burden on their shoulders.

Iannuzzi predicts Tyco will likely expand into the Doodle space once the dust has settled from the current situation. But even while the 1950s relic searches for a new home and continues its fundraising efforts, there are still a few skeletons in the closet left to be taken care of: roughly $12,000 in debt — including accumulated back-rent and late fees — remain for the Doodle to pay off or otherwise settle with Tyco.


  • stcheve daaav

    Should Mr. Beckwith decide not to relocate the Yankee Doodle into a Yale University lease space; Yale should lease that available space to a FedEx Kinko’s.

  • Remembering Doodle from the 60's

    Iannuzzi's hostility toward Yankee Doodle has evidenced itself in all his communications as reported in the YDN. Hostility oozes even from his earlier attempts to appear helpful. Does Tyco have a monopoly in New Haven? Cannot Yalies find a way to takes their business elsewhere?

  • Tyler

    I will literally go to the library and copy every page of a course packet from books on reserve before I will ever give a cent to Iannuzzi or Tyco. They are scoundrels.

    Do they seriously want us to believe that they hadn't planned all along to force the Doodle out and expand Tyco? The recent developments make that so apparently clear. Iannuzzi has no desire to save the Doodle.

  • Anonymous

    If you were a businessman, would you let your tenant go without paying rent for months and choose to let them stay because "it means so much to people"?

    No. Because you'd be losing money.

  • FedEx Kinkos…

    Should be brought in ASAP. If TYCO ain't willing to play fair, then they should be given a dose of their own medicine. Besides, FedEx is a product of Yale's own Fred Smith. Why shouldn't one be near Yale's campus?

  • Anonymous

    Why don't we have an OPEN FORUM, and discuss our feelings about this at length. Then we can protest day and night until Yale uses its endowment to buy Tyco, put them out of business, and then give the entire space to the Yankee Doodle and pay them to stay in business.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone really care about Yankee Doodle? How many current undergrads actually went there when it was still open? I'd bet most students have never set foot in there. Let it go. It's a business that no one actually cares about anymore.

  • Anonymous

    Hey #7, just because you didn't go there doesn't mean that no one else did. Due to previous setbacks, the Doodle didn't have hours that were conducive to undergraduates. Have you ever seen the Doodle at 1pm on Saturday or Sunday? It was packed. I'm sure more undergraduates will eat there when the hours are longer. If it was open at 2am, like it used in be, it would be a far better late-night option than Gourmet Heaven, etc., especially because it's so cheap.

  • Anonymous

    But it's not open until 2am. And being "packed" at 1pm on a Saturday means drawing a whopping 15 customers. Yankee Doodle ran out of money simply because it was poorly run and did not respond to the market. How does a capable owner not notice financial difficulty months before the establishment is actually forced to close?

    Yankee Doodle is not a charity, and it's not a sacred burial ground. It's a diner. If no one wants to buy it, let it die.

  • Edward Joseph

    i can't think of any kind of business to place in there that can pay that kind of rent..What is that building worth i wonder?? Does this increase co-incide with the City's appraisal ??
    Does Mr.Tyco have a mortgage ?
    is the building paid for ?
    after gentrification you will see SUPER gentrification..The more not-for-profits appear (state of ct.property also)
    the higher your taxes are going to be,
    Throw in the Mayors use of Taxpayers dollars to further his career,The Union pandering,etc.and so on…what ?you want me to be more specific ? okay

  • Anonymous

    hey #8, you said it yourself: "The Doodle didn't have hours that were conducive to undergraduates." Congratulations. Thanks for pointing out why exactly the Doodle can't keep business and why it's not worth keeping around anymore.

  • joey

    Many ,many people like the Doodle and hope it's relocated to a nearby locale.
    One might be surprised as to what's brought up at appraisal hearings..
    I wonder if there's any Facade Improvement grant money floating about here..Any Tax abatement,
    i can just hear it now..'You appraise me for all of this and i have a Hot Dog stand next door" ,and they both are providing a service to both Yale and locals

  • A Plan

    #1 List the services that the Yale community currently pays Tyco to provide. #2 Gather information about alternative sources for these services. #3 Publish contact information for those reliable individuals who are collecting donations to preserve the Yankee Doodle. #4 Find an alumn or group of alumns who would wish to buy the Doodle or oversee the running of it, should Mr. Beckwith prefer to retire.

  • Recent Alum

    The Doodle was as profitable as you'd expect for a 240-square feet business in that area, the reason it had to go is because it was charged well-above market rent by Tyco. And the reason for this is not that Tyco thinks anyone else will pay more in rent, but because they want to expand Tyco. Since Tyco is just a somewhat less efficient version of Kinko's and since the Doodle has the best burgers in New England, it is no wonder that us alums would side with the Doodle.

  • Anonymous

    #14: The Doodle did not have the best burgers in New England. If it did, it would not have gone out of business.

    On the other hand, if it did have the best burgers in New England and STILL went out of business, that would be the best proof you could ever need that the place was incredibly poorly mismanaged.

  • Recent Alum

    That the Doodle has the best burgers in New England is pretty much common knowledge among alums (at least alums who eat meat, which admittedly excludes a few people). As I already pointed out, it is going out of business because Tyco is charging rents that are well above market, not because there lacks sufficient demand for Doodle burgers.

    Was the Doodle mismanaged? I have no idea, and I frankly don't care. As a customer, I care about the quality of the burgers I eat, not about how well a restaurant I go to is managed.

  • joey h.

    Ianuzzi is smelling more and more like a straw buyer ,the "brains" is this buddy/partner..He is an Endowment stooge who is set up with a an investment.
    Their are other incidents of flagrant stupidity. The Wine Thief that just opened on Crown street is another example of starting up a contributor and croony.
    His lack of wine expertise is evident.
    The first incidence i witnessed was the
    manipulation of Claude at the Downtown Health & Racquetclub..closed just to reopen. Throwing the bone at the Mayor gets full support from Incompetents,Yale sends Bruce's daughter AND you better not say a thing about Anna.
    All fail in months So the City is storming into surrounding Gyms to provoke litigation and chase out members in the desperate hope of them joining this car of clowns that is the gym on the green
    Close the Doodle down and suckers will spend their own money,The Tyco building is already receiving abatements and loans.
    Sad,Sad disgusting

  • Sandra L. Davis (yesharvardsucks@yahoo.com&#41

    It only took a realtively short test of time to demonstrate how Tyco owner Mike Iannuzzi truly felt about "helping" the Doodle. One wonders if it took Mike longer than two days to write his Doodle business plan…only to rescind the offer when the Greater New Haven and Yale Community did not fawn over the posted manifesto.

    Thanks for showing us who you really are, Mike. Would a true friend of the Beckwith Family really turn over that fast? Many think not. Mike's negative actions counteract all the seemingly positive words previously expressed.

    There is nothing wrong with making a business decision, but to craft a veil of solidarity with The Doodle only to pull the rug out in less than 48 hours is professionally and morally reprehensible.

    So thanks for letting your true colors show, Mike. New Haven residents, Yale professors and Yale students please express your sentiments economically. If you are not in support of Mike's underhanded move, please take your business elsewhere.

  • Anonymous

    Yale students don't have a choice in giving Tyco business: if we have a course packet, they're not available at more than one place, and that place is usually Tyco. I wish it were otherwise.

  • Sandra L. Davis (yesharvardsucks@yahoo.com&#41

    In response to #19, it's time to think creatively regarding Tyco's monopoly on course packets. Here are two options:

    An immediate choice is to have one (1) packet made at Tyco's and then trek it on over to another copy machine (located within another business or even the library) so that other people needing the course packet may purchase it. People would even pay a little more to support The Doodle and reward the person coordinating this effort for their time.

    A second choice is to contact your professor/TA/Department chair and briefly express that an optional source for the course packet be made available given the tenuous Doodle & Tyco issue. You may find that the Yale faculty has long wished for an alternative to Tyco as a distributor for the course packets, and now there is a compelling reason for change.

    When I was an undergrad, Tyco's course packets were quite expensive, and we use to make copies that were less expensive in CCL (now Bass).

    It's all about choice. You're smart -- so make a smart choice for yourself and The Doodle.