Press Club

Atilla’s is closing next month after almost five decades on Columbia Pike

Atilla’s Restaurant and its grocery store are both closing next month after nearly 50 years on Columbia Pike.

The well-known Turkish businesses are shutting the doors at 2705 Columbia Pike on May 29, long-time restaurant manager Sarah Engi confirmed to ARLnow.

The reason is redevelopment. The one-story retail strip that’s been Atilla’s home since the mid-1970s is set to be demolished in the coming months to make way for “The Elliott,” a six-story residential development that was approved by the Arlington County Board last month.

Engi said ownership is looking for a new space, hopefully as close as possible to the original Columbia Pike location. However, they are also looking in Fairfax County due to the cost of rent in Arlington being potentially prohibitive. The new business would focus on carry-out and retail.

The sit-down portion of Atilla’s Restaurant closed during the pandemic and never re-opened. There are no plans to revive that part of the business at the new location, Engi says.

In 1998, the original owner Atilla Kan sold the business to Zulkuf Gezgic. However, the restaurant’s namesake has stayed with the business ever since making bread, hummus, and other items.

Because of that, Atilla’s menu hasn’t changed all that much, Engi notes. It’s always been Turkish food with Greek influence, since Kan is originally from Greece but his family later moved to Turkey.

The new development is forcing a number of other businesses in that retail strip to relocate, including Legends Kicks, Columbia Pike Partnership, CVS, and the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, with leases set to expire May 31.

“The Elliott” is set to have 247 market-rate apartments above a grocery store, the relocated CVS, and Burritos Bros, which is moving from a small stand in the parking lot adjacent to Penrose Square.

The grocery store is rumored to be an Amazon Fresh location. When the company was asked, a spokesperson told ARLnow in February that “Amazon doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

With about a month left at the location that Atilla’s has called home for almost five decades, there’s plenty of emotion.

“I’m sad. We are losing family,” Engi says. “Big companies are moving in and smaller businesses are leaving. Things are changing. It’s really sad.”

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