The D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment will meet with the owner of Philly Pizza & Grill, Inc. today in response to the cancellation of the establishment’s certificate of occupancy on Oct. 14 by the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
ehmet Kocak, the owner of Philly Pizza & Grill, will seek a stay of enforcement at the meeting as he appeals the DCRA’s decision to revoke the establishment’s COO, according to Aaron Golds (COL ’11), the student representative for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E.
“The appeals process may take months, and the stay will allow them to remain open during this time. If the BZA denies the stay, Philly P’s will have to close down until they win the appeals process, or win a special zoning exception to allow their continued operation at that location,” Golds said.
Depending on the outcome of the BZA’s decision tomorrow, Kocak will have several options regarding his business’s future. According to DCRA spokesperson Shana Kemp, if Philly Pizza is successful in its request for a stay of enforcement, the establishment can continue to exist in its current form. If it is unsuccessful, they can apply for a special exception approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment in order to continue operating as it does currently.
“[They can also] close and move to another location or they can change the nature of their operation to be consistent with the definition of restaurant use,” Kemp said.
The establishment has been subject to grievances from Georgetown residents since [the move of the establishment to Potomac Street](https://www.thehoya.com/news/philly-pizza-to-move-two-blocks/) from its original 35th Street location. [Residents have complained of high noise levels, littering and disorderly behavior](https://www.thehoya.com/news/at-anc-meeting-philly-pizza-provokes-complaints/). According to Ron Lewis, chairman of the ANC 2E, DCRA plans are in line with the wishes of residents.
“They are a fast food place – not a restaurant – in a residential street, which is not allowed. This is a zoning issue. One of our commissioners, Bill Starrels, has written a letter to the BZA voicing the concerns of residents and sympathizing with the DCRA,” Lewis said.
“Any attempt by DCRA to enforce this fatally flawed Notice to Revoke would improperly shut down the Appellant’s operations and constitute a death sentence for this small, minority-owned and -operated business,” said John Patrick Brown Jr. and Kate Olson, representatives for Greenstein DeLorme & Luchs, P.C., the firm representing Philly Pizza & Grill in its request for stay of enforcement.
It is not clear what the outcome of the meeting will be.
“I cannot tell you how likely [the success of the appeal is]. It is for the board to decide. I am not aware of any precedent and am not sure about the merits of this appeal,” said Sara Bardin, special assistant in the District of Columbia Government Office of Zoning.
According to Golds, the appeal is warranted, but the BZA has the right not to grant the stay of enforcement or ultimately the appeal.
“The zoning violations are very serious, and the BZA would be acting within their right to not grant the stay, which would shut down Philly P’s, but that is a decision that will be made by the BZA, not the ANC,” Golds said.
Philly Pizza & Grill, despite the concern of residents, is a popular late-night haunt for many Georgetown students.
“I know Philly P’s is important to the student body, but there is nothing that can be done from an ANC perspective to help the establishment. My hands are tied by the DCRA investigation and the BZA’s ruling tomorrow,” Golds said.
The meeting will occur at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 1 Judiciary Square, 441 4th St. NW. “