Editorial: We've had our Fill of Philly
Geez. Can’t Mehmet Kocak just give it a rest?
Rumors, arresting as the scent of melted mozzarella, have seeped out and spread fast among neighbors that the former owner of the irreparably besmirched Philly Pizza has again filed papers for an operating license at the same location he was forced to board up just six months ago. At the time, Kocak so vehemently defended his rights as a restaurateur he began to seem a kind of self-styled paladin of pizza.
You can’t say he doesn’t get points for effort. However, it’s one thing to stick to your guns for a time, and another to remain totally intractable when backed into a corner — literally — by residents on all sides. When the neighbors are inviting the mayor out to see you off, isn’t it time to throw in the towel?
Kocak maintains that this time around, his proposal is for a different, more innocuous sort of operation — a kind of hot sandwich shop — but the signs are ominous, most notably his request for a 550-degree conveyor oven three feet wide. You want pepperoni with that?
At the height of the fiasco earlier this year, we sat down with Kocak to make sure we understood his side of the story. His argument — essentially that he was being singled out — was a little maudlin, a little put-upon, but on the whole well reasoned and worth a listen. That, however, was before an organized coalition of neighbors, ANC commissioners and city officials, including the attorney general, mayor and DCRA chief, ordered him out. In the process, he huffed, dragged his feet and even operated on a suspended license until he was threatened with jail time. In a word, Kocak played bad politics in a town where politics matters.
Now, to put it bluntly, we’re as tired of this perpetual debacle as the households of Potomac Street. Exactly why Kocak would want to rekindle a neighborhood feud and further strain relations between the University and neighbors is a mystery, but it seems more and more to have to do with a misguided and self-interested pursuit of profit. While we applaud the growth of small businesses in Georgetown, it must take a back seat to the welfare of its residents, without exception. Philly, or whatever its latest genesis, has worn out its welcome.