The Issue: Philly Pizza & Grill continues to serve up late-night pizza—on paper plates, no less! a dine-in faux pas!—despite promises by owner Mehmet Kocak to close at midnight, reports the Georgetown Voice. So after a night of shenanigans in Georgetown, partiers with growling stomachs may still gorge on pizza until 4 a.m. But the hours of Kocak’s establishment, already in deep water with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), are not the main issue. DCRA’s issue with Philly P’s is zoning. It seems to be a fast-food eatery and not a dine-in restaurant—and fast-food joints are not zoned for residential streets.
False Promises?: “We just want to make sure that Philly P’s door is open for everyone, lunch, dinner and midnight. But not 2 to 4 a.m….nobody wants to lose Philly P’s,” the Voice quoted Kocak as saying last November.At a hearing last month, the Board of Zoning Adjustment didn’t force Philly P’s to curtail its hours, but neighborhood residents did ask it to consider closing earlier. Their response, according to local Advisory Neighborhood Commission vice-chair Bill Starrels: You might as well shut us down.The ANC is still fighting: It argues the property is not zoned for a fast-food establishment, and according to Philly P’s numbers, more than 50 percent of business came from delivery and take-out, which defines it as one.
Pizza Party’s Cleanin’ Up: At last month’s inconclusive hearing before the BZA—over 4 hours of testimony, mostly discussing the intricacies of take-out versus dine-in silverware and plates—John Patrick Brown Jr., attorney for Kocak noted, “It looks and feels and acts like a restaurant, and I think that’s an important distinction.” Plus, since November, Philly P’s says it has cleaned up its act. New trash cans adorn the street, and the restaurant has hired a security guard so people don’t loiter. “The better the area around my restaurant looks the more inviting it is for my customers,” Kocak said.
What’s Next: Philly P’s fate will be determined next Tuesday Monday at the BZA hearing. The ANC intends to present its case against Philly P, though Starrels says, “It’s not us shutting them down.” It’s a zoning thing.