D.C. Superior Court order shuts down Philly Pizza. No, seriously this time.

Today saw the end of a long campaign to shut down Philly Pizza’s location on Potomac Street, which has been operating illegally since its license was revoked in mid-February. Its doors closed last night, and today, they remain shut.

After a February 19 Board of Zoning Adjustment ruling that barred its continued operation and a subsequent order to vacate the premises failed to shutter the late night drunk food joint, Philly Pizza got taken to D.C. Superior Court, where a two day hearing that concluded this afternoon ordered the establishment to remain closed, or else find itself in contempt of the court.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Vice-Chair Bill Starrels said that as a result of the ruling, at today’s hearing, Philly Pizza agreed to remain closed. An e-mail from D.C. Office of Attorney General’s Michael Stern that Starrels provided to Vox reiterated the hearing’s success at shutting down the pizza joint for good:

“I am pleased to report that after a hearing for most of the day yesterday, when we returned to Court this morning Mr. Greenberg, the attorney for Philly Pizza & Grill, Inc., conceded our point to the Court and voluntarily agreed to close the establishment. We reduced that agreement to writing, and made it an Order of the Court.”

Well, almost certainly for good. Starrels said that Philly Pizza owner Mehmet Kocak has filed with the D.C. Department of Consumer Regulatory Affairs for a new certificate of occupancy.

The DCRA’s decision to revoke its certificate in November, citing activity that violated the certificate like too high a volume of take-out traffic, is the decision that originally endangered Philly Pizza. The DCRA will have to decide whether it wants to issue a new certificate.

Last Friday, while waiting for the hearing that concluded today to start, Starrels and a neighbor of Philly Pizza who had come to the Moultrie Courthouse to hear the judge’s decision expressed great frustration that it had taken so much effort to try to close Philly Pizza. They speculated that it continued to operate so its owners could make money up to the point of its officially closing.

“We’re being dragged into another hearing,” Wolf Wittke, who lives across the street from Philly Pizza, said. “We haven’t ever had such trouble with other [food] establishments in the area. And talking to Philly P always resulted in this attitude of, ‘It’s none of your business.’”

Martin Sullivan, an attorney for the ANC, said that it was unusual for an establishment to remain open after it had been closed by the DCRA, resulting in court action, and Starrels said he had recently learned that Philly Pizza was operating in defiance of another authority, the Old Georgetown Board, which approves structural changes to local buildings, which had cited it for an improper ventilation system.

“We know where we live,” Wittke continued. “It’s Georgetown. It’s a busy street. We like the area, and we don’t mind the students coming and going. But if you’re creating a party hotspot at a business without a license …” He shook his head. “We’re becoming the next Adams Morgan in that area.”

Kocak and his representation both declined to comment.

15 Comments on “D.C. Superior Court order shuts down Philly Pizza. No, seriously this time.

  1. Yes, Wolf, it actually isn’t “your business.” You weren’t the ones getting “dragged into another hearing,” either… ’twas cranky cats like you doing the dragging. Get a clue, dude, you moved into a place a half-block from M Street. It’s always a high-traffic area. You should try the burbs, where nothing ever happens, and you can whine away in blessed silence.

  2. I don’t have a problem with the neighbors fighting to close Philly P’s since it was operating in an unlawful manner. It’s one thing to live right on M St and expect quiet. That’s unreasonable. But, if you live off M St, whether you moved last week or in 1788, you have a right to expect that a commercial establishment will operate appropriately on a residential street. Georgetown Cupcake, for example (before they moved): nice little business, not disruptive, welcome addition to the block. What’s laughable is that Mr. Wittke said, ““We know where we live. It’s Georgetown. It’s a busy street. We like the area, and we don’t mind the students coming and going.” Is he the ONE resident who doesn’t mind the students? Where is he when Jennifer “Benedict Arnold” Altemus and her gang are University-bashing?

  3. Hi F that, this is F you. Do yourself a favor and go back to redneckland. You get too excited in georgetown. It’s not for you. You probably suck anyway and your mom and dad’s hard earned money are wasted at GU.

  4. this will stop georgetown students from getting drunk once and for all

  5. ouch yo that stung. that was super mean of you.
    except I was all scholarships and work study… musta been all that learnin I did back home

    and as for the cupcake fiends? i’ve seen those “nice” people lined up down the street causing quite a ruckus myself. we should probably send some citizens out there to count them surreptitiously and report them to the district government.

  6. What’s up with all these “GU students are rednecks” and “go back to the farm” comments on VoxPop lately?? Just look at all of the comments on the articles dealing with town-gown relations, and there is invariably some angry neighbor talking about all the “hillbilly” Georgetown students. Since when did this become a stereotype of our university? I always thought the disparaging stereotype was that we were stuck-up, elitist collar-poppers who sail too much and just didn’t make the cut at the Ivies. I guess when you live in Georgetown fulltime and you’re not a student that there isn’t much room for the “stuck-up elitist” insult, so you’ve gotta go the opposite way and assume that we were all farmhands or something before coming here.

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  8. It is pity that when we have 12 percent unemployment in DC our government people are busy with shutting down businesses. I saw mayor today giving press conference in front of the pizza place. I could not believe when I saw him speaking. where was he when out streets were full of trash and snow in December and February????

  9. Surprise, suprise. Wealthy and middle-class people fail to realize that people come to G’town to party and squash anything that they don’t like. Especially when the people who visit this restauraunt are very diverse in nature. Smacks of a double-standard when you know that there are a lot of similiar operations in other areas (like Adam’s Morgan) that have the same type of operation. Sad that money changes everything.

  10. Just because some of us choose to live in Georgetown, doesn’t mean that we should give up the neighborhood to bratty ass GU students who think they can: 1) park anywhere they want, i.e., blocking private driveways, 2) urinate AND/OR vomit on people’s property, 3) sit on top of other people’s parked cars and 4) throw parties on side streets any given night till 3am. Oh yes and don’t forget all the trash that’s left on doorsteps and sidewalks because some of you can’t possibly be bothered to put your trash in the garbage cans.

    If Philly was operating as a “restaurant” as it claimed it was when it applied for its business license, there wouldn’t be a problem– restaurants would shut down long before 3 am. It is clear to everyone who ever stepped foot in or near Philly, that it was nothing more than a fast food, late night pizza place. If Philly wants to cater to this late night crowd, it should move closer to the campus or be on M Street, not a residential street.

    Philly could have been a nice neighborhood addition if they operated legally and actually tried to be a good neighbor. There are plenty of other shops in the neighborhood like Georgetown Cupcake, Subway, Rhino and Booemongers that all manage to operate well without being a neighborhood nuisance. Philly should’ve taken note. But you know what? All these comments about wealthy Georgetown residents shutting down a poor little pizza place is BS. The only people who are responsible for Philly getting shut down are the people who caused it to be a neighborhood nuisance. You know who you are. So stop whining and just STFU.

  11. the city won’t even let students get regular parking permits, even though we live and pay rent here. there’s an explicit exception in the DDOT policies that prevents students from getting zone 2 permits.. unlike any other campus in the district. wonder who made that happen? but hey, make sure we can’t ride a bus through “your” neighborhood either. it’s all about you, ain’t it?

  12. @5:12pm- What does that have to do with Philly? And by the way, I take the bus, so again, stop whining and STFU.

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