The former owner of Atilla’s on Columbia Pike has combined forces with his brother for a new restaurant.
Back in May, the well-loved Turkish restaurant Atilla’s and its next-door grocery store closed on Columbia Pike after nearly five decades of operation due to the building’s impending demolition. At the time, Atilla’s management told ARLnow that they were looking for another close-by space where they could open a new business that would focus on carry-out and retail.
But those plans appear to have changed somewhat.
Instead, Atilla’s owner Zulkuf Gezgic is now working with his brother at a relatively new restaurant on S. Glebe Road called Akivva Grill.
That restaurant opened at 2921 S. Glebe Road in the fall of 2021, but it was about two months ago when Gezgic “combined” his business with his brother’s.
Akivva, located about two miles away from Atilla’s former home, is a “different concept” than his previous eatery, Gezgic told ARLnow, but the Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine is similar to Atilla’s.
At the moment, he’s “unsure” if he’ll open another Atilla’s. Gezgic said he decided to not open an altogether new restaurant but, rather, work with his brother on an already existing one because Akivva was already an “established brand.”
The former location of Atilla’s is still standing, though it’s expected to be torn down soon to make way for a new residential development. Currently, there’s a sign on the door directing people to the new location.
The restaurant’s original owner, Atilla Kan, opened the restaurant on Columbia Pike in the mid-1970s.
In 1998, he sold it to Gezgic but Kan stayed on making bread, hummus, and other items for the majority of the next two decades. Because of that, the menu didn’t change that much from when it first opened nearly 50 years ago.
But what did change was the neighborhood, with impending development up and down Columbia Pike prompting several other businesses like Atilla’s to close. Next door, The Salsa Room moved to Tysons in 2020. Last year, both the Columbia Pike Partnership and the Black Heritage Museum closed and relocated down the street.
In May, the Atilla’s long-time manager Sarah Engi told ARLnow that it felt like many of Arlington’s older, small businesses were being pushed out.
“I’m sad. We are losing family,” Engi said. “Big companies are moving in and smaller businesses are leaving. Things are changing. It’s really sad.”
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Join the NAACP Arlington Branch, HOME of Virginia, and Equal Rights Center for the 2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference on April 15th to discuss the threats and opportunities to advancing fair housing policy across the state and within Arlington.
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