PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — After the manager of an Uptown pizza shop was caught on camera allegedly assaulting a customer Friday night, other customers have vowed to boycott the place.
A group of protesters gathered in front of Pizza Milano on Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood Monday afternoon for the second time in a move to try to close the business for good.
A cell phone video that went viral over the weekend shows shop manager Mahmut Yilmaz physically assaulting 34-year-old Jade Martin, who told police she had gone into the restaurant to use the restroom.
“When you are in this neighborhood and you don’t value the people who built it, the people who are spending their dollars in this neighborhood, then we don’t want you here,” protester Nicky Jo Dawson said.
Yilmaz told police Martin was being loud and disruptive, and she refused to leave when asked. Yilmaz has been charged with simple and aggravated assault.
“The aggravated and simple assault charges we feel are not enough. That was an attempted murder,” Dawson said.
Martin’s attorney told KDKA she did go to the hospital. She suffered a concussion and other injuries to the face and head. Yilmaz told police he did not believe her head was hitting the floor.
“From what I saw, I felt like that he attempted to do grave bodily harm to that young lady,” Pa. Rep. Jake Wheatley said at the protest Monday.
Martin is also facing defiant trespass and disorderly conduct charges in the incident.
The restaurant has been closed since Saturday.
On Monday, Pizza Milano owner Semsi Yilmaz — who is not related to Mahmut Yilmaz — released the following statement:
“Pizza Milano has a 20-year history of being part of Pittsburgh’s Uptown community. That’s why what happened this past Friday is so disturbing to me, to our customers and to our employees. After reviewing the videotape, I immediately terminated the manager’s employment and condemn his actions in the strongest way possible. Regardless of what led up to the exchange, what he did goes against our policies and my beliefs. It’s not the way we run our business, and our customers need to know that. We have cooperated fully with the police investigation from the beginning and will continue to do so.”
Mahmut Yilmaz faces a preliminary hearing on the assault charges on Jan. 25.
KDKA’s Bob Allen reports —
The protests were also affecting Milano’s Pizza, a similarly named but unaffiliated pizza shop with several locations around the Pittsburgh area.
Herman Sciulli wants to set the record straight.
His business is called Milano’s Pizza, and he is not connected in any way to Pizza Milano on Fifth Avenue closer to Downtown Pittsburgh.
“I want to clear this — we are not affiliated with Pizza Milano at all,” Sciulli said. “I started Milano’s Pizza 42 years ago and I’m still here.”
Scuiulli owns Milano’s Pizza in the 3600 block of Fifth Avenue near the Pitt campus. Pizza Milano, the scene of an attack caught on video, is located a few miles away in the Uptown section of the city.
The Oakland location of Milano’s Pizza was closed Monday because of harassing calls coming from as far away as California.
“They told us to shut down because you’re causing a lot of problems,” Sciulii said.
The Sciulli family opened the first Milano’s Pizza back in 1975 and has three stores: one in Allison Park on Route 8, another in Mars, and the one in Oakland, which is operated by Herman Sciulli’s son.
“It’s hurting our business. In Oakland, we had to shut down today because all of the phone calls we received,” Sciulli said. “So now we wait and see what’s happening. Something like that happened and I have nothing to do with it. We have nothing to do with it. Our name has nothing to do with that Pizza Milano deal that went through a couple of days ago.”
Sciulli says he named the business after a city in Italy called Milano, and he accuses the owners of Pizza Milano of stealing the name.