Light & Verity

Doodle fans disappointed

Hard feelings after efforts to help a beloved diner.

As a New Haven native and Yale alumnus, Peter Hadler ’99 was a regular at the Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop, often stopping in to indulge a craving for a pig in a blanket or a chocolate milkshake. So when he heard the Doodle was closing, he promptly went online and ordered two Doodle T-shirts for $30.

But Hadler has never received the T-shirts. After several months, four unanswered e-mails, and a complaint to Paypal (which handled the online monetary transaction), he has given up. "We've been scammed," he says.

Hadler was one of many people who rushed to support the Doodle when word spread of its closing in January. A "Save the Doodle!" group on the online networking site Facebook called for donations; another group of alumni worked with owner Rick Beckwith on a plan for reviving the coffee shop in another location; and fans ordered nearly $18,000 worth of merchandise, according to Beckwith. Several months later, more than a dozen people have posted frustrated messages on Facebook, complaining that they have not received their merchandise. Some question whether Beckwith had any intention of filling the orders.

Beckwith told the New Haven Register in September that the problems are due to customers moving or giving wrong addresses. He also says he was "overloaded" with about 800 orders in January and February. "There was some confusion, but I am on top of it," he wrote in an e-mail to the Yale Alumni Magazine. "I'm very sorry for the problems." Anyone who is still missing merchandise should e-mail him at , he says; he will reship any missing items "in a timely manner" and send refunds if nothing is left in stock.

Beckwith says that there is a "50-50 chance" that the Doodle might still reopen at a new site. But Scott Proper ’01, who had led one group of Yale alumni trying to help Beckwith, says their plan failed, "primarily because it had to address existing current and long-term liabilities of very substantial magnitude." Meanwhile, the Doodle's former location on Elm Street has been merged into TYCO Copy Center next door.

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