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Potential Manayunk Israeli Eatery Faces Obstacles

Property owner's baggage may be too much to overcome.

A proposed Israeli restaurant neighboring  on Main Street may never get its feet off the ground—at that location at least.

Though restaurateur Oriel Elbahary has a date with the Zoning Board of Adjustment to discuss his Pita Uno application at 4324 Main St. in late February, tax problems from the building's owner could squash his application.

According to city tax records, property owner, 4326 Main Street LP, is delinquent of $37,881.99 in back taxes, fees and interest, dating back to 2006. 

"We pushed the zoning back, and we're trying to finish a deal with the building owner," Elbahary said, adding there were issues with the owners and the neighborhood itself.

Without some sort of settlement with the city, zoning approval at the site will be hard to come by. 

Elbahary owns Pita Uno at 138 South 11th St. in Center City, and seeks a Manayunk spot. He proposes a 325-square foot restaurant with 14 seats and a menu including pitas, falafel, salads, platters and kabobs. He needs a certificate of use before he can renovate the vacant property.

In December,  and earned a conditional approval of his plan—so long as he agrees to close at midnight. Several zoning continuances later, Elbahary told Patch Thursday that the agreement is unfair and wants to serve until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

"On the weekends, I want to stay open later and make some more money," he said. 

However, according to civic association President Kevin Smith, "That's exactly what we don't want him to do. I know he doesn't want to sign our agreement, but he said he would." 

If Elbahary and the property owner sign the new standard agreement, the MNC and Manayunk Development Corporation will support the variance application. If they reject it, the groups will oppose.

Since the civic and development group , Smith said three applicants have signed it—two from the Belvedere Restaurant Group and one from  owner Moon Krapugthong. The agreement prohibits live music, DJs, cover charges, and requires minimum trash pickup for new businesses. Both local groups would have to OK applications to deviate from that plan.

For the Pita Uno deal, parking was also an issue for the city, but that was resolved with in December when MDC Executive Director Jane Lipton said there's room in some neighboor lots, which Pita could cite as potential lots.

Elbahary has a hearing Feb. 29, a hearing Smith says he can't push back any farther.

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