The Wit and Wisdom of Mian Iftikhar

Over the past few months, intrepid Crimson gumshoe Daniela J. Lamas ’03 has reported on the trials and tribulations of the new Tommy’s Pizza owner, Mian Iftikhar. While fighting valiently for the privilege to keep his pizza joint and convenience store open until 3am, Ifttikhar has shared some of his life story and rapid-fire wit with Lamas. Here is that story. Here is that wit:

Mian Iftikhar and his wife Bushra immigrated from Pakistan with high hopes in 1986. After years of pumping gas, cooking donuts and finally managing a Papa Gino’s, Iftikhar scraped together the money to purchase Tommy’s House of Pizza nine months ago. Excited to run the late-night Harvard institution and perhaps even open a 24-hour convenience store nearby, Iftikhar approached the city of Cambridge’s License Commission to transfer the pizza permit to his name.

Since his initial visit to the License Commission, the small, soft-spoken Iftikhar’s life has become a series of disappointments. Due to years of noise complaints from the pizzeria’s neighbor, the License Commission refused to grant Iftikhar a permit to close the pizzeria at 3 a.m. last spring—but promised Iftikhar a hearing to reassess the noise situation in six months.

Throughout last spring and this fall, Iftikhar tried to stop cooking pizzas at 2 a.m., but said fire concerns and comon courtesy kept him from forcing hungry students out of the establishment promptly at 2 a.m. He also opened a convenience store two doors down from the pizzeria. But business was suffering. Iftikhar siad the 2 to 3 a.m window of time without freshly cooked pizza brought his sales down 15 percent. And the noise complaints continued.

When Iftikhar went before the License Commission again for a hearing last week, his request for a permit to close at 3 a.m. was denied once again. Three Cambridge residents, worried about late-night noise from the pizzeria, attended the hearing to lobby for an earlier closing time.

After a contentious hearing, Iftikhar was ordered to shut down promptly at 2 a.m., without allowing his customers to loiter—a demand Iftikhar said could destroy his business.

ON AMERICAN DREAM, PURSUIT OF THE

“I just believe in working hard.” (10/26/01)

ON BARGAINING WITH THE LICENSE COMMISSION, HOW NOT TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT

“I will try for midnight, which will probably mean we will shut at 11 o’clock.” (6/6/01)

ON DRUNK KIDS, ACCEPTANCE OF THE INEVITABILITY OF

“What can I do? Tell the kids outside to not shout? They’ll say ‘What are you talking about?’” (10/26/01)

ON DRUNK KIDS, DENIAL OF THE EXISTENCE OF

“In nine months here, we’ve never had any fights, never had to call the police. These are educated kids. There are no incidents.” (10/22/01)

ON DRUNK KIDS, INERTIA OF

“If people are sitting and eating, it’s just so difficult for us to tell them to get out.” (10/22/01)

ON INSOMNIA, DIFFICULTY OF CURING

“If these people can’t sleep, they can’t sleep. What can I do?” (10/26/01)

ON LEGAL RESTRICTIONS, COMPLIANCE WITH

“We’re going to close at 2 a.m. then. What can we do? There is no choice now, obviously.” (10/26/01)

ON LEGAL RESTRICTIONS, HOW TO FIGHT AGAINST

“People have said I should find a lawyer, but I don’t do things like that. I have never had a lawyer in my life.” (10/26/01)

ON LEGAL RESTRICTIONS, ILLEGAL METHODS OF COMPLIANCE WITH

“We can’t lock the doors, because if there’s a fire, God forbid, people would be trapped.” (10/22/01)

ON LEGAL RESTRICTIONS, LEGAL BUT SELF-DEFEATING METHODS OF COMPLIANCE WITH

“Sometimes we try to put out the lights, but people just shout.”(10/22/01)

ON LEGAL RESTRICTIONS, LIQUOR

“There is no liquor in my store. We tell anyone coming in with a beer, I’m sorry, you’ll have to leave.” (6/4/01)

ON LEGAL RESTRICTIONS, MILK

“I won’t be able to sell alcohol, obviously, or milk because you need a special license.” (6/6/01)

ON PAKISTANI SHAWLS AND HANDMADE GOODS, DEMAND FOR

“Maybe when the other [Pakistani shawls and handmade goods] come in, something will sell.” (10/26/01)

ON PAKISTANIS, POSSIBLE BIAS AGAINST

“When I bought this place, it had a license to 3 a.m. Does this have something to do with the students or something to do with me?” (10/24/01)

ON PROPER NUTRITION FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS, THE IMPORTANCE OF

“Good stuff, not junk food or liquor. I want to give that to them. They are studying late at night.” (6/6/01)

ON WHAT IS TO BE DONE, NOT KNOWING

“Believe me, I have no clue what to do. I put all my heart and money into this. It really looks like they want me to leave.” (10/24/01)

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