Saturday, May 27, 2006

God. Dammit. (Bucks County Edition)

Goodbye, Goodnoe's

After more than 30 years in the restaurant industry, Raymond “Skip” Goodnoe is calling it quits and closing the historic restaurant and dairy bar that has carried the family name for five decades.

The Sycamore Street property in Newtown Township where the restaurant stands — formerly the family's dairy farm — will be sold, Goodnoe said Friday. But the company name, its ice cream recipes and other proprietary rights will remain in the family should anyone decide to resurrect the business.

“It's a difficult decision,” Goodnoe said. “I'm proud of what we've done over the years. It was tough to make a decision to stop, but it's been something that's been working on my mind for a few months.”

The restaurant will close on Labor Day, Sept. 4.

“We're going to have a summer-long celebration,” Goodnoe said. “We'd like to celebrate with the people who have come to us all these years and have one more summer. Come Labor Day, that's going to be it.”

Since 1955, when Goodnoe's father opened a dairy bar on the family farm, Goodnoe's has been synonymous with homemade food and, more importantly, homemade ice cream. Most of the farm was sold in the 1970s and is now the Village at Newtown shopping center.

The restaurant celebrated its 50th anniversary in the fall, and at the time, Goodnoe said he had no intention of giving up the family business.

But Goodnoe, 54, said he's gotten tired of the daily grind.

“It's a tough business,” he said. “It's seven days a week. It's constant. It's a way of life, not a job. I've been doing it 33 years, and it's time for me to stop doing it.”

Goodnoe, a former Newtown Township supervisor, said no one in his family wants to take over the ice-cream business. But he'll keep the rights to the ice cream plant, in case his children or grandchildren want to resurrect Goodnoe's in the future.

“If they wanted to open up a store, they can do that and sell ice cream,” he said. “I'm not saying that is what's going to happen.”

Goodnoe said if he were to continue running the restaurant, he would have had to consider purchasing a liquor license to be profitable. “I'm happy with the 50 years we've had, and it's time to move on because I'd rather not go that route,” he said.

To celebrate the restaurant's history, Goodnoe's will feature a retro menu of burgers, shakes, fries and other specialties. That menu will remain until the restaurant closes.

Customers said Friday that they'd miss the family eatery.

“When I think about ice cream, I come here,” said Angela Wagner of Penndel. “It's original. I love the ice cream.”

Wagner, who was treating herself to an ice cream sundae Friday, recalled visiting Goodnoe's after hayrides with her children. She's also gone with her girlfriends to get ice cream after taking walks in nearby Tyler State Park.

“We figured the walk and the ice cream balanced out,” she said.

Alan and Roberta Rim often travel from East Windsor, N.J., to take their grandchildren, 4-year-old twins Hope and Brett, to Goodnoe's.

“We like it. Please keep it just the way it is. It's a nice family place,” Roberta Rim said as she and her grandkids dug into bowls of mint chocolate chip ice cream — one of Goodnoe's most popular flavors.

Council Rock North juniors Julie Ierubino, Amanda McLane, Dean Chalela and Steve Maseda mulled the restaurant's impending closure as they waited for an “Atomic Sundae” to be delivered to their table Friday afternoon.

“It's upsetting,” said Julie, whose father used to work at Goodnoe's. “It's a symbol of Newtown.”
The restaurant was the first local restaurant Steve's family visited when they moved to the area eight years ago.

“You can't really replace it,” he said. “But it's kind of hard to ask him not to retire.”

Goodnoe said he's reached a tentative agreement with Middletown developer Joe McGrath to purchase the property, which is almost 4 acres. McGrath confirmed that Friday. He said his company specializes in commercial development.

He's working on the redevelopment of the former Grove Supply Inc. property on South Main Street in Doylestown into a village-style strip center.

“We're excited about (the Goodnoe tract),” he said.

Goodnoe said he doesn't know what retirement will bring.

“I'm too young to stop doing things,” he said. “So I will look for new opportunities, probably do a little traveling and a little enjoying and find something else constructive to do that is not as demanding.”