Original Ledo Restaurant Packing Up Pizza Pans for a Move to College Park

"This is my first home," says Toby Pendry, 73, of Adelphi, who has come to Ledo Restaurant almost every day for the past 50 years.
"This is my first home," says Toby Pendry, 73, of Adelphi, who has come to Ledo Restaurant almost every day for the past 50 years. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
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By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 13, 2009

"What? They're closing?!"

Jenny Bumblis hadn't heard the news that Ledo Restaurant in Adelphi, the place where she got "the best pizza in the world," where she always took her children for dinner, was shutting its doors.

Actually, it's shutting its doors and reopening them several miles away.

Ledo, a Washington area landmark that has served its legendary square pizzas for almost 55 years, is moving next year from its original spot in a University Boulevard shopping center, just west of the University of Maryland, to College Park.

For Jimmy Marcos and Tommy Marcos Jr., who took over the reins of the restaurant from their father, Tommy Marcos Sr., the decision to move meant becoming part of the revitalization effort in College Park and placing the restaurant within walking distance of the university, an opportunity they could not pass up.

"This is about securing our future for another 50 years," said Jimmy Marcos, who plans to sign a lease for the new building this week.

Ledo opened in 1955 as a partnership between Tommy Marcos Sr., who worked for the Prince George's County Sheriff's Office, and Robert L. Beall, a former liquor inspector. During the restaurant's heyday in the 1960s and '70s, sports legends including Yogi Berra, Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath regularly walked through its doors, Jimmy Marcos said.

The pizza became so popular that the sons of Marcos and Beall created a franchise in 1989. But the relationship soured, a legal battle ensued and the Marcos family is no longer affiliated with the franchise. The Marcoses own and operate the original Ledo Restaurant.

The planned move of the famed restaurant, where plastic plants and mix-and-match stained-glass lamps hang from the ceiling and photographs of former U-Md. teams and Washington Senators line the walls, has left many customers and employees with mixed feelings.

"We always came here for the pizza," Bumblis said, a plate of half-eaten lasagna in front of her. "All of my kids are grown up now, but they loved it. . . . I just hope they don't lose that family feel. It's so intimate. . . . It still looks the same."

Customers remember when they were kids and came in with their parents to pick up dinner, the sweet aroma of pizza sauce and warm smoked provolone in the air. They recall going out for late-night bowling and standing in a line that snaked around the building to get a carry-out pizza. A couple even remembered getting engaged in one of the green faux-leather booths.

Toby Pendry, 73, has made the five-minute trek from his home in Adelphi to Ledo Restaurant almost every day for the past 50 years. He recently sat, reminiscing, in the restaurant's adjoining bar.

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