Jack Evans Lays Down the (Pizza) Law

Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 4:21 PM EDT
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Jack Evans Lays Down the (Pizza) Law

Lynn Schubert

Police arrive at an impromptu pizza party outside Philly Pizza and Grill in Georgetown.

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You think Georgetown Cupcake had it bad? That’s nothing compared to Philly Pizza, a Georgetown pizza shack that was hounded out of business earlier this year.

Some background:
 
The cupcake controversy heated up after the store moved around the corner to M Street from its Potomac Street location. The bake shop has always been popular and there have always been lines, but the traffic increased several-fold when Georgetown Cupcake became the subject of its own (horrors!) reality show. 
 
Suddenly there were all kinds of tourists (tackily dressed, natch) in line with locals, hording the sidewalk space and in some cases, even blocking the path of the gentry who actually own property in Georgetown. 
 
Would you want to muscle past a couple of commoners to gain entrance to your own home, even if you bought that home knowing that living near M Street would put you in close contact with commerce and the headaches that come with it, namely... um, the public?
 
Anyway, Georgetown Cupcake's owners did the smart thing and nipped the controversy in the bud by shuffling the ways to attain their cupcakes, adding a preorder option that allows the hungry to avoid waiting in line.
 
Philly Pizza, the Cupcake sisters' former neighbor on Potomac Street, was not as smart -- or lucky.
 
The place, some might argue, became a victim of its own success, not to mention a few zoning violations and its late-night hours. Unlike Georgetown Cupcake, Philly Pizza was open after the bars closed. It was a favorite post-pub destination for the neighborhood’s seamy underside, namely drunk Georgetown University students and other people who act in similarly charming ways after hours of chemical enhancement.
 
As with Georgetown Cupcake, there were lines, but since it was late at night (or early in the morning, depending on your perspective), there was also a lot of sustained hooting, hollering, littering and a variety of other forms of unsavory behavior. 
 
The word nuisance doesn’t quite cover it -- residents of Potomac Street and its environs could be forgiven for feeling as if they nodded gently off to sleep in Georgetown and were brutally awakened in the middle of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras.
 
So the neighbors fought a long and expensive regulatory battle to shut down the pizza peddler for trash, noise, zoning and other violations. Mayor Adrian Fenty announced in March that Philly Pizza should be shut down for "not being a good neighbor."
 
So you can imagine the good neighbors’ dismay when they learned recently that the restaurant would reopen as Go Fresh and owner Mehmet Kocak had been granted a new certificate of occupancy that came with some strict conditions, according to Georgetownvoice.com:
"As per the consent order, Go Fresh will not be able to cook raw ingredients, such as meat, dough, or fish. The restaurant will stop serving customers at 12:45 a.m. and close at 1 a.m.; Thursdays through Saturdays, deliveries can continue until 3 a.m. And the final nail in Philly Pizza’s coffin? Go Fresh “shall not serve and/or sell pizza."
Final nail? We think not. It would appear that nail belongs to Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans.
 
At Thursday’s Town Hall, Evans and presumptive mayor-elect Vincent Gray were challenged by a Georgetown resident to permanently close Philly Pizza, according to The Georgetown Dish. Gray’s response was predictably diplomatic. "Gray responded that he will demand transparency from his agencies and that they will work with neighbors or there will be 'one more person on the unemployment lines and that person will be the director'," the Dish reported.
 
Evans was more direct after the Town Hall, telling the Dish, "I'm going to put [Philly Pizza] out of business. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but it's going to happen."

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