I found this out on Wednesday, but have not been able to bring myself to talk about it. It’s just so sad. The Yankee Doodle in New Haven closed this week. It’s understandable, they just can’t make enough money. A bunch of folks are trying to “save the doodle,” and it looks like the owners are accepting donations, so maybe there is still hope.
If you don’t know, the Doodle was this tiny diner-type restaurant over by the Broadway strip. Basically you walked in the door and there was a counter running to the back, and enough room to either sit at the counter or stand behind someone sitting at the counter.
The first time I went was as a high school student; my advisor then was a Yale alum, and thought it a travesty for his students never to have experienced the Doodle. So one day he arranged for us all to meet over there for lunch. The place was packed, so that people were standing and eating or waiting outside the door for their food to be ready to take away.
It’s hard to describe why the place was so great. Clearly, part of it was that it was family-owned and operated, so the same folks were always behind the counter and they got to know you. But for me, it was the food. They had a small menu, but everything they made was delicious. Mostly I think of the hamburgers. There’s nothing like it. They scoop some chopped onions onto the burger before pressing it into the grill. Then they butter up the bun and toast that in the hamburger grease. When those things are done they top it with mystery barbecue sauce that is strange and chunky and delicious. There were other things too, that are part of Doodle legend.
Like the doughnuts that they slice in half, grill in the hamburger grease, then serve with cold vanilla ice cream. Or the muffins that they slather with butter, then, of course, grill in the hamburger grease. Egg sandwiches. Omelets. Freaking delicious. And, they’d open early enough on Saturday mornings that we’d be able to get hamburgers for breakfast on our way to rugby games.