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A pall fell over Port Washington last week as news of Ayhan's troubles spread. (For anyone who missed the exaggerated media coverage given to Ayhan's problems, which approaches that which was given to D-Day (!), an outbreak of food poisoning occurred at his restaurants.) All of us who know him and know about the good he has done for his adopted community were upset that such bad luck should befall him. He needs our support now.

Ayhan is a man who, by dint of his hard work, talent and good nature, built an enviable restaurant empire over the past 20 plus years. Like a Greek hero, he's one who indisputably attained great heights on his own. Interestingly, he is the embodiment of the American dream; he simply built a better mousetrap. He gives us a good product for a reasonable cost, while always sharing his good fortune with others.

The extent and impact of his generous economic and philanthropic contributions to Port Washington are hard to measure, especially because he often performs his good deeds quietly, in his unassuming way...without hubris. Our numerous local organizations can always count on him for a donation or favor. Port would lose a wonderful friend and supporter if the community doesn't rally behind him.

And for purely selfish reasons, if Ayhan is forced to close, our local economy will suffer, because his restaurants bring people from all over to just eat (and oftentimes shop) here.

We do recognize the health problems suffered by some of his customers. For some, this manifests itself as a real nasty ailment. However, we still believe that Ayhan deserves another chance.

This awful event is, in our view, an aberrant occurrence. One that can happen in the finest of restaurants or go unnoticed, or unassociated with a particular eatery. More importantly we know what a conscientious and excellent busines man he is and fervently believe this will never happen again. .

On a more positive note, we're heartened and touched by all of the support this caring community is exhibiting for this cherished friend. The paper has been flooded with phone calls and letters praising and expressing confidence in Ayhan. Many recall his long list of contributions to the community. Ads are being taken out in support of Ayhan. Dick Zausner of the PW Tennis Academy is closing down the kitchen there for a day and ordering in Shish Kebab. Legislator Craig Johnson, State Senator Mike Balboni and TONH Supervisor May Newburger ate at Shish Kebab this past week to show confidence in and respect and affection for Mr. Hassan. It's all very heartwarming.

Once again, we're very proud to be part of Port Washington and its legendary community spirit, of which Ayhan is an outstanding example. Let's show him a little of what he taught us over the past 20 years.

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