One Store Closes, Another Opens

If you wanted to see the changing face of Saugatuck, yesterday was the day.

On her final day in business, Doc’s Café owner Yvonne Dougherty threw a party for her many customers friends.

There was good food, her classic Sledgehammer coffee (and wine), plus plenty of what-am-I-going-to-do-now lamentations from folks who have come in every day — “literally,” one said — since she opened her converted-garage doors on September 11, 2000.

Fans of all ages flocked to Doc's on its final day.

“As cheesy or clichéd as this may sound,” Yvonne wrote in a farewell letter,

you’ve become like family to me.  While discovering what kind of milk you prefer in your latte and the variety and quantity of sweetener, I’ve also learned about you.  I’ve learned about your families and your careers.

You’ve shared with me your successes and your hardships.  In return, you’ve learned an awful lot about me — perhaps, at times, to the chagrin of my 3 children (all former Doc’s employees at one time or another) and my husband (the man who truly made this dream possible).

Yvonne promises to open a new incarnation of Doc’s — somewhere — “very soon.”

Meanwhile, across the street — literally — Saugatuck Craft Butchery threw a welcome-to-the-neighborhood party for itself.  They’re the newest shop to open in the first phase of the Saugatuck retail/residential/office redevelopment — the same project that, in its next phase, will demolish the building housing the now-former Doc’s, among others.

The crew and customers are all smiles at Saugatuck Craft Butchery.

I’m not much of a red meat eater, but the spiced hamburgers that were free for the sampling were — literally — the best burgers I’ve ever tasted.  That includes Shake Shack — and Big Top.

The plaza by the river was rockin’.  There was music, food, and an old-fashioned, meet-your-neighbors vibe.  It’s exactly what the developers of Saugatuck envisioned several years ago — but it was exactly the type of friendly, funky place Doc’s already was.

Thanks for the memories, Yvonne.  We hope you’ll resurface somewhere, soon.

Thanks for coming, Saugatuck Craft Butchery.  We hope you’ll be here a long time, as the area grows and thrives around you.

11 responses to “One Store Closes, Another Opens

  1. Terry Brannigan

    Wow, Being compared to The Bit Top Shoppe is rarified air. Did they toast the bun>

  2. I loved Doc’s! I am so sad to see it go!

    I was a very occasional regular. I don’t even drink coffee but I would go in for a cookie and I loved the “feel” of the place.

    Now that almost all of our town businesses are owned by national chains paying huge rents to greedy landlords, (many of whom are old time Westport families/landowners) whatever distinctive feel we’ve had here is rapidly fading. Too bad. I will miss Doc’s. It was a great place in the two incarnations I knew it (before when it was in the still vacant Bridge Street Market).

    I do hope that she opens in Westport and not in Southport. Fairfield is quickly becoming the personal vibrant place Westport used to be. Oh well, nothing I can do but watch all of the well connected local politicians talk about making bigger parking lots downtown so that the local landlords of national chains can charge more money and make certain that wonderful places filled with local character, like Docs, have to move out and move on to more affordable venues.

    • If you knew the origins of Doc’s you might not be so wistful about its departure. If you wanted it to stay, maybe you should have purchased more than an occasional cookie. The same might be said of those who pine for the Remarkable Book Store; they loved it but bought their books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Westport will be better off if it changes to reflect the realities of the 21st century than it will be if it falls under the spelll of those who look backwards rather than forwards. As to the “greedy'” landlords; good for them. They are the agents of change, and if they risk their money on the wrong bet, that is their loss not mine or yours.

      • Landlords as agent of change? How do you figure that? What is their motivation other than garnering higher rents? Your “agent for change” at Saugatuck has kept the Market space vacant for arcane reasons that no one but they understand. I would say it’s probably “greed” waiting for unreasonably higher rents. I don’t know what knowing the origins of Docs has to do with liking Docs. Did someone get killed in the early years as part of it’s revolutionary history?

        As for only going there occasionally, I don’t eat that much, and I don’t drink coffee, sorry for that. I don’t go to Starbucks nor anyplace else to hobnob with my rich, arrogant “agents for change” no doubt close friends of yours.

        Only in Westport would someone get aggressive over a comment about liking a place, bemoaning it’s passing and not loving the good that is done by all of the altruistic landlords here in town. Give me a break.

        • Only in Westport would someone use the word “greedy” to describe an entire class of individuals and then claim to only be making “a comment about liking a place.” If you kept it at that, you would have been on firmer ground.

          • Maybe Darien has the right idea? Who wants a bunch of tourists trilnpapg down our lilies?Who wants that kind of bragging rights? Some of us remember the ole Clam Box that brought people as far as New York City to our fair town. Cops had a field day with giving out tickets to speeders or towing cars. Crappy food too.

      • Warren Wrote: “Fairfield is quickly becoming the personal vibrant place Westport used to be.” And in response Emma Wrote: “Westport will be better off if it changes to reflect the realities of the 21st century than it will be if it falls under the spelll of those who look backwards rather than forwards.”

        So is Fairfield looking backward? And what are the Realities of the 21st century that Westport is not facing?

    • 2 small local businesses (soon to be 3) opened across the street from Doc’s: Craft Butcher, Down Under and soon to be Le Farm. Business ebbs and flows…maybe you can fall in love with some ‘new’ businesses and spaces as we move forward in time….and all the jobs, success and revenue that comes to the many people involved (not just those evil landlords).

      Also, to nit pick….Just a couple of jokes to pull out of your post:

      1) “well connected local politicians” Do you endorse unconnected/detached politicians? It’s not as if westport is awash in lobbyists.

      2) “I don’t go to Starbucks nor anyplace else to hobnob with my rich, arrogant “agents for change” no doubt close friends of yours.” I am sure you only shop at small local businesses. Your banking at a local credit union? your groceries at the farmer’s market? Your health insurance? Your internet provider? your wardrobe knitted locally?

      3) “only in westport.” If westport is so awful, move to fairfield. by all means…move to fairfield!

      • Good ones! I have a sense if humor. I love Westpot and don’t want to move. But I don’t love every little thing. On balance it’s still a nice place to live. You make good points. I’m certainly not perfect. I do some local shopping and some chain store shopping. But because I’m not perfect doesn’t dilute my points. I’m not absolutely right nor are the other opinions absolutely wrong. Change is good. But not all change is good. There are good landlords and even good politicians -gulp- I just think that a lot if people have less than altruistic motives. Not everyone, just some folks. thanks for your lightening things up. I’m sorry if I came off as really strident. I’m not.

      • Sorry for the typos on my last post, it was done on a portable device. Just one last thing. My comment about local politicians being “connected” does not refer to lobbying activities, of course. I am referring to “connections” with local businesses, local families who have owned land in town for generations some of whom have very narrow self interests. Market forces do not always allow for the best decisions with respect to development. Politicians have to exert some control and direction through zoning laws, etc. If they are over influenced by a good old boy network of landlords, then they tend to bend to them rather than doing what is best for the town and the greater good.

        I’m not talking about every single landlord or every single politician. Acting as if I said that is a common technique in arguing, it’s called argumentum ad absurdum, which is, you exaggerate someone’s position then label it absurd. My point of view is not extreme, in spite of some who would paint it as such. I am hardly “pining for the buggy whip industries”. It’s a good line, I’ll give you that, but it’s not a proper representation of what I am trying to communicate.

        I do hope that some of this change will be for the better as you suggest. We’ll wait and see.

  3. I made no judgement on circumstances in Fairfiled. Westport needs commercial entities that are economically viable. Empty commercial real estate is not a firm foundation for the “vibrancy” Warren seems to value. The establishments that have folded in the more than 30 years I have lived in Westport were victims of economic realities for the most part. Pining for the buggy whip industry is a fruitless exercise. The demands of the community have changed and new establishments have been formed to meet those demands.