Tyco owner and co-landlord Mike Iannuzzi announced Monday he would not put the Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop space back on the market for two months in order to give the diner “ample time” to reopen.
Amid the media barrage over the Doodle’s abrupt closing last week, Iannuzzi has repeatedly asserted that the portrayal of Tyco as the cause of its neighboring restaurant’s demise is unwarranted. In addition to offering the two-month grace period, Iannuzzi deflected accusations that high rent rates overburdened the Doodle, pointing to specific elements in its business plan that he feels must undergo revision.
But the Doodle’s owner Rick Beckwith remains skeptical of Iannuzzi’s commitment.
Beckwith responded Tuesday in a statement to the News that called the offer “wonderful news.” But Beckwith reiterated that Tyco’s refusal to change its “unreasonable lease terms” was a sign of its lack of commitment to helping the Doodle.
“Not only has the community’s outpouring meant so much to me and my family, but it also has clearly had an impact on Tyco,” Beckwith said in the statement. “Once there is a new lease, we will know that Tyco is indeed committed to saving the Doodle.”
Beckwith declined to comment outside of the statement, aside from an “updated statement” he sent several hours later.
Iannuzzi said the rent rate for the Doodle increased an average of $16.67 per month since 2005 — or five cents per stool per day — an “inconsequential amount.” Instead, he focused the blame of the closing on issues involving the restaurant’s hours of operation, menu options and increased local competition as the basis of a more productive discussion.
But “Save the Doodle” advocate Phillip McKee ’94 said additional fees levied by Tyco, such as for property taxes or building maintenance, exacerbated the rental costs.
“If Tyco wishes to continue to insist that the current rental rate is reasonable, then they need to stop expecting to collect additional charges that effectively double the Doodle’s rental rate,” McKee wrote in an e-mail. “These additional charges have allowed Tyco to mask their rate increases and to misrepresent the lease terms.”
In light of his recent offer to Beckwith, Iannuzzi said the demands to guarantee lower rent fees were unwarranted.
“I don’t think anybody should be putting any demands on us if we have allowed a two month window for somebody to get a plan together,” Iannuzzi said. “I’d think in two months they’d want to think about what they need to do — it’s just common sense.”
Beckwith’s statement disagrees, saying that Iannuzzi’s apparent generosity is just a ploy to gain positive publicity for himself.
“Tyco needs to stop attacking the Doodle and my family and to stop misrepresenting the situation in the media,” Iannuzzi said in the second statement.
But Iannuzzi said he is perplexed by Beckwith’s words. Iannuzzi said he has had only positive exchanges with his tenant since the closing.
An e-mail Iannuzzi provided to the News that he said he received from Beckwith on Monday — after he announced the two-month window — alluded to the potential for reopening in a positive light:
“Thank you for this offer; it’s going to be a win-win situation for both your business and mine,” Beckwith wrote in the e-mail to Iannuzzi. “Your questions … were already being addressed by my core group of advisers in an effort to compose a sound business plan so it looks like we’re all on the same page with that.”
Iannuzzi said his goal from the start has been to do all he could to resolve the situation. Even so, it seems that this most recent development has managed to, once again, spark debate and disagreement.
“I put a good effort on the table, and put very realistic questions on the table. I made my position fair,” he said. “I really have nothing else to say, so I guess they don’t have to worry about any future statements, because there won’t be any future statements.”
The Yankee Doodle announced its closing Jan. 29. At press time, there were 3,014 members of the “Save the Doodle” Facebook group, 636 members of the “SAVE THE DOODLE” group, 188 members of the “I contributed to save the Doodle” group and 55 members of the “Boycott TYCO to help save the Doodle” group.