July 13, 2024


Free For All Food

What the Initial Ledo Restaurant Meant to Maryland

What the Initial Ledo Restaurant Meant to Maryland

a person sitting at a desk in front of a computer: Ledo Restaurant founder Tommy Marcos Sr., right. with his Tommy Marcos Jr.

© Courtesy of Ledo Restaurant
Ledo Restaurant founder Tommy Marcos Sr., correct. with his Tommy Marcos Jr.

Lefty Driesell did not want the get together to end. So when the University of Maryland honored the Corridor of Fame men’s basketball mentor, increasing a banner in his honor in 2017, he finished his acceptance speech by inviting an audience of friends and family members to sign up for him for pizza at Ledo Restaurant. The evening went late at his preferred hangout, and Driesell’s celebration consumed many slices with his preferred topping, chewy pieces of bacon that never get cooked until eventually they’re placed on top of pizzas just before they slide into the oven.

Driesell’s large night was just one of many particular occasions that took place at the unique Ledo Restaurant, a Maryland landmark with a background courting back to 1955. But following 65 yrs throughout two places, the founding spouse and children that runs Ledo declared in November it was closing the iconic Italian-American cafe in Faculty Park, which experienced operated beneath unique specifications than the franchising operation that split off to spawn additional than 100 places across the East Coast.

Proprietor Tommy Marcos Jr. sold the original Ledo Restaurant to a management business that previously operates various franchises for the chain. Jim McGinnis, who brokered the sale, claims Marcos has presented to seek advice from on recipes, and management team Chesapeake Hospitality options to renovate the house right before reopening it in 2021. But for longtime enthusiasts like Driesell, there is practically nothing like the original, and the retirement of the second-technology owner signifies the close of an period.

“No opposing admirers have been there immediately after games. It was all Maryland,” suggests Driesell, who took his staff to a normal lunch at Ledo for 15 several years. “[Co-owner] Tommy Marcos was a huge-time supporter. He was a super man. Pretty welcoming, upbeat. He was a wonderful businessman. Restaurants are not profitable if they really don’t have excellent management and food stuff. I’ll normally recall Ledo.”

Marcos identified as the conclude of his family’s involvement in the enterprise “bittersweet.” A sequence of health problems convinced him to sell immediately after a 43-yr tenure. His father, Tommy Marcos Sr., and husband or wife Robert Beall opened the very first Ledo Cafe in 1955 in a strip procuring middle in close by Adelphi, which was a prolonged wander for hungry Maryland learners. Continue to, they identified the rectangular pies with flaky crusts, cooked in steel pans that have been typical in the 1950s, worthy of the trek.

a pizza sitting on top of a table: Ledo Pizza split off into a chain with more than 100 locations on the East Coast

© Sean McCormick for the Washington Write-up by way of Getty Photos
Ledo Pizza split off into a chain with far more than 100 destinations on the East Coastline

Ledo pizza is far more about the center of the sq. than the corners. It’s a blend of pastry-slender crust with sweet sauce and a light-weight layer of cheese that puts the target on generous toppings. Marcos estimates that the cafe marketed additional than 1 million pizzas above the years, which includes 200,000 due to the fact 2015.

His purchaser base went beyond students and famed basketball coaches. At just one position, a large white limo sporting “My Way” on the license plate arrived to select up a pie for Frank Sinatra, who gave a live performance at the aged Cash Centre in Landover, Maryland. The Rolling Stones also purchased takeout. The Doobie Brothers arrived by. So did quite a few experienced athletes, like Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, Jets quarterback Joe Namath, Baltimore Colts QB Johnny Unitas, and Washington Senators All-Star outfielder Jim Lemon.

Marcos Jr. says a feeling of household drew numerous regulars. Ledo was a second residence for Maryland young children and a homecoming spot for alumni. Grandchildren of some of the earliest personnel labored at the cafe, which moved to close by Knox Street in 2010. Marcos claims the first Ledo has used a lot more than 10,000 people.

Higher education Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn reported places to eat like Ledo come to be aspect of a community’s identity.

“It’s vital to have institutions that men and women affiliate with Faculty Park,” explained Wojahn, who’s a supporter of the particular taco pizza, topped with spiced beef, picante sauce, cheddar and smoked provolone, iceberg lettuce, and diced tomatoes. “It’s a position where by you realized the bartenders and the servers. I’m genuinely going to pass up that.”

Maryland sports and Ledo Cafe ended up constantly tightly aligned. Marcos Sr. turned a Terrapin Club member in 1958, attending both street and house football and basketball games right up until his demise in 2010. Enthusiasts crammed into the outdated restaurant in Adelphi, lined with shots of Terps athletes and customers of the Washington Senators baseball crew on the wooden panel partitions, right before and immediately after game titles. Driesell normally dined at Ledo soon after home game titles. He was a major fan of the spiced shrimp and Italian-model egg drop soup, as perfectly as the pizza.

“They had been the old crowd,” Marcos Jr. suggests. “They went to all the video games. They loved Maryland. All people realized just about every other.”

a tall building in a city street: Ledo Restaurant sits under a parking garage on Knox Road in College Park, Maryland.

© Restaurant Brokers and Builders, Inc.
Ledo Restaurant sits under a parking garage on Knox Road in University Park, Maryland.

a store inside of a building: The bar at Ledo Restaurant in College Park, where the original pizzeria relocated in 2010.

© Restaurant Brokers and Developers, Inc.
The bar at Ledo Restaurant in School Park, where the initial pizzeria relocated in 2010.

Ledo Restaurant is known for extra-thick slices of pepperoni

© Marvin Joseph/The Washington Write-up by way of Getty Images
Ledo Cafe is known for excess-thick slices of pepperoni

Dave Pacella, an offensive lineman on the Terrapins soccer crew in the 1980s, says his recruiting go to bundled a take a look at to Ledo, the place he grew to enjoy the slices of pepperoni the kitchen lower further thick as a time-preserving evaluate.

“We received a pizza late-night time,” Pacella remembers. “It was slim, a minor greasy due to the fact of the pepperoni and sweet sauce and a distinct crust. I imagined it was so various. I normally go to Ledo any time I’m in city. I could consume it cold all day lengthy.”

Lefty Driesell holding a basketball: Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, left, and star center Tom McMillen frequented Ledo Restaurant in the 1970s

© Getty Pictures
Maryland mentor Lefty Driesell, still left, and star centre Tom McMillen frequented Ledo Restaurant in the 1970s

Tom McMillen, a star center who anchored Driesell’s fantastic basketball groups of the 1970s right before actively playing in the NBA and turning into a congressman, was a ham-and-pineapple enthusiast.

“My brother and I went there just about every Friday night time,” McMillen claims. “So numerous situations teammates and pals would get pizza for the dorm. It was a staple.”

After arriving in Higher education Park in 1969, Driesell served Ledo pizza to reporters just before video games and at midweek press conferences. That custom continued right up until the new closure.

“When individuals appear to deal with video games, especially from out of city, you want to present them a slice of your neighborhood, literally and figuratively,” suggests Doug Boring, a 1981 Maryland graduate who expended 10 a long time as a sports activities information and facts director for the athletic office.

“Everybody seemed forward to it,” states Zack Bolno, who also worked as a sports activities facts director at Maryland. “I realized the press home would be silent when the pizza came.”

Loaded Daniel, a 1986 Maryland graduate who owns the DC Divas women’s football staff, says buyers have been drawn in by a sense of loved ones. Taking in at Ledo Restaurant “was like a Thanksgiving meal you only get a few situations a year” he suggests. “Other individuals make pizza, but you really do not have a square or the exact sauce. It was exceptional. … It was comfort foodstuff.”

The Ledo chain and authentic restaurant divided decades ago. Sons of the authentic associates opted to franchise in 1989, but the Marcos family members made the decision to concentrate on the 1st restaurant. Beall’s family operates the Ledo Pizza chain, with sales of $120 million in 2018, according to Pizza Currently. All that enlargement led to some locations that were inconsistent, presented a watered-down model of the initial, or skimped on the cheese. At the authentic Ledo, customers could generally be expecting the high level of good quality that came from Marcos Jr.’s administration.

Marcos Jr. resolved to market the restaurant past spring and inevitably found a consumer, even with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been devastating for restaurants. The determination was not easy for Marcos Jr., whose daughter operates as a section-time manager. He’s sentimental about the cafe and its heritage. The name arrived from his father’s company in Globe War II. Marcos Sr. flew above the Himalayas through Globe War II and landed soon after a mission at an airport on Ledo Street. With indication-makers charging by the letter, the elder Marcos looked to that memory for an cost-effective alternative.

“My dad always stated the restaurant was his golfing video game. I fully grasp now,” Marcos Jr. claims, outlining how the organization was a lot more like a interest. “You enjoy being there, talking to the consumers, workforce. It starts to develop into a spouse and children, and that is what I’ll overlook. It’s been a great journey.”

Rick Snider found out Ledo pizza as a Maryland pupil in 1980 and blames his waistline on taking in way also lots of. His favorite topping is pepperoni. No, sausage. No, pepperoni, sausage, and added cheese.

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