There's a "pizza war" afoot in College Park, and its latest victim is Route 1's Pizza Mart, which closed June 7, said its owner, Mike Chisti.
Pizza Mart, famous for its "jumbo" pizza slices, was located between Jimmy John's and MilkBoy ArtHouse. The Red Boat Viet Fusion Restaurant will take over the storefront.
Pizza Mart's College Park location had been open since 2014, said Chisti, who owns two other Pizza Mart locations in the D.C. area.
He decided to sell the College Park location because he wanted to focus on maintaining the success of his restaurants in Adam's Morgan and University Heights, he said.
Chisti said he felt the store was going downhill last year, so he decided to sell it.
"We were unable to spend our time in College Park and we didn't want employees running the location," Chisti said, adding that the lack of oversight would "jeopardize our name and quality."
Several pizza places including Lotsa Pizza, Pizza Kingdom and Blaze Pizza have opened in College Park since Pizza Mart opened its doors four years ago. The competition among these restaurants played a role in closing Pizza Mart, Chisti said.
"There's a pizza war going on in College Park," Chisti said. "Every time you turn around there's a [new] pizza shop."
Chisti sold the property to Minji Seo, co-owner of The Red Boat Viet Fusion Restaurant, which is based in Baltimore. The restaurant's new Route 1 location is scheduled to open in August. It will offer dishes such as pho, Banh mi sandwiches and Korean bulgogi beef tacos, Seo said.
Recent University of Maryland graduates Nick Armah and Gina Fuchs were disappointed to hear that Pizza Mart had closed.
Armah said he had been eating there since he was a freshman, adding that he got to know some of the workers by name and sometimes received free food because he was such a frequent customer.
"I can't describe how distraught I am," Armah said.
Fuchs called it "the best late night place to eat" in College Park and said she was drawn to the late night eatery for its affordability and fun atmosphere. Fuchs said she preferred the chicken wings, while Armah enjoyed the mozzarella sticks. Fuchs said the employees once let her behind the counter to take orders from customers.
Fuchs suggested that something other than a pizza or Asian food restaurant should take Pizza Mart's place.
"I get it, there's a lot of pizza places, but why wouldn't they put [something] like a liquor store?" Fuchs said. "We have so much Asian food and so much pizza, put something else."
Other restaurants on Route 1 have closed in recent months, including Five Guys in March and The Stuffed Turtle this month.
College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said he wasn't aware that Pizza Mart and The Stuffed Turtle were closing, but welcomed business with new offerings coming to the city.
"I'm open to what will serve the community well," Wojahn said. "We have a lot of pizza places in College Park and I'd welcome a different one."