DOWNTOWN — When walking along the Third Street Promenade, it’s hard not to notice the eyesore that former sports bar Yankee Doodles has become.
“Closed for remodeling” signs have replaced some 115 former employees, and the settling of dust is now more audible than the screams of sports fans.
The three-month closure of Yankee Doodles is the result of a lengthy insurance investigation of the July 29 flash fire that erupted from behind a broiler in the kitchen, said restaurant owner Herb Astrow. Though the fire did little structural damage, the same cannot be said of the water used to extinguish it.
“When something like this happens, literally … thousands of gallons of water are pumped in,” said Astrow.
Resulting damage to the floors, walls and furniture account for what Astrow estimated to be a loss of roughly $1 million, though that number has yet to be finalized by Crusader Insurance, whose representatives declined to comment for this story.
“They’re … trying to pin down exactly if there’s anybody who’s responsible — maybe the machinery manufacturers or a faulty pipe,” Astrow said, noting that he is optimistic the drawn-out process will conclude in the next few weeks. “They are taking excessively long, much longer than [it] should normally take under these circumstances.”
Once a payout is finalized, discussions regarding the long-term future of the restaurant can renew between Astrow and Tucker Investment Group, owners of the 1410 Third St. building where Yankee Doodles is a tenant. Last May, the company stated their desire to reduce the square footage of the restaurant and convert its ground floor into retail space for new businesses, but the fire has effectively put that on hold.
“I haven’t thought much about it,” said company president Bill Tucker. “We’re still working with the insurance carrier to settle it out.”
Astrow, however, has made elaborate plans for the restaurant’s future. If all goes his way, Yankee Doodles will be replaced by a gastropub-styled restaurant called “On 3rd.”
“Our intention is to remodel the entire space,” he said. Starting with a patio enlargement that would seat more than 100 customers, Astrow wants to rebrand the business as “a dining restaurant with sports.” A renovated kitchen would accompany a completely new menu, which would include a wide selection of craft beers.
Concerning the ground floor space that long served as a game room, Astrow anticipates installing another bar and removing 95 percent of the restaurant’s pool tables.
“The plan is to obtain a live entertainment permit and do live music downstairs, lease it out for parties,” he said.
Should his plans be approved by both City Hall and Tucker Investment Group, the restaurant could reopen as early as April 2014. Yankee Doodles employees would be welcomed back to help develop the new venture.
“We talked about it recently, he’s given me some ideas,” said Tucker, who assured that all plans are simply speculative. “We just have to see what’s going to happen with everything when it settles out.”