National Park Service has sliced Whit. Chef Whitney Aycock served up his last pies at Slice O’ Whit at Riis Park last weekend. After a series of complaints, the federal park service decided their differences couldn’t be put aside, no matter how good the food is.
On Monday, July 24, Aycock posted a photo on social media of the location where he’s been serving up pizza and other delicacies at Riis Park Beach Bazaar over the past two summers. Yet his post marked the end of good vibes at Suite 1 on Bay 9. “As of today, this awesome place is closed! The small, simple-minded fools that oversee this beautiful National Park have deemed us federally offensive. So be it. Happily so. F***em,” the post said.
Aycock’s news shocked fans of the man who has been nicknamed the Pizza Nazi. Many were saddened and outraged to hear that one of their favorite concessionaires would no longer be at Riis Park.
The Rockaway Times reached out to Gateway National Recreation Area’s Public Affairs Officer, Daphne Yun, for comment. “There have been numerous complaints about Whit's behavior and actions since he has been at Riis Beach. The park has met with him to address these issues, to which he indicated he would comply,” Yun said. “Despite our efforts to work with Whit, he continued to act in such a way that is not in keeping with the National Park Service values.”
After much questioning over how Slice o’ Whit could be “federally offensive,” Aycock took to Instagram to post the exact letter he received from NPS, citing the complaints that led to him being shut down. The letter, from Gateway Superintendent Jennifer Nersesian, mentioned instances of inappropriate music being played and a confrontation that ensued between Aycock and a beachgoer after the beachgoer addressed the music. Another bullet point mentioned the playing of loud music during last week’s Rockaway Artists Alliance film festival. The letter says Aycock was asked beforehand to lower the music as to not disrupt the event and he allegedly refused. “In spite of the prior notice, Mr. Aycock refused to comply, interrupting the event organized for the community.” The letter says Aycock eventually turned the music down, but the damage was done. “His disruptive inconsiderate behavior and continued intentional noncompliance is unacceptable.” Another bullet point referred to a lewd painting that Aycock had on the door of his premises. It said Aycock had removed the painting, but “his poor judgment and imprudent behavior is unbecoming of a park operator.” Lastly, the letter said Aycock didn’t get approval to install a business sign in front of the historic property.
Belvy Klein, owner of Riis Park Beach Bazaar, said they fought to keep Aycock as one of their concessionaires. “We have attempted to moderate and work out the differences between the two, but ultimately and unfortunately, we were not successful. Throughout his tenure with us Whit has consistently received raves from press and public alike for producing some of the very best pizza in all of NYC - both the local community and beach goers will definitely miss his food,” Klein said. "At the end of the day, while we don't applaud this decision, we understand that Riis is a federal park and that we - and all of our sub tenants - have to comply with National Park guidelines and regulations. It's really unfortunate that it came to this and I wish that compromises could have been reached, but at this point it's out of our hands."
By Tuesday, Aycock had removed the majority of his belongings from the Riis Park premises. Aycock will not be returning to Riis Park in the winter. What’s next for Whit’s pizza is up in the air, but fans of the chef will know where to find his “f***in’ good burger” and other treats at his “chill” spot in Arverne.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS