How Ledo Pizza Invented the Maryland-Type Pie
- Ledo Pizza founder Bob Beall invented the Maryland-style pizza, a sq. pie made with provolone and thick-cut pepperoni, just by “not realizing any higher.”
- His big-league buddies helped him draw clients within the early days, and the model nonetheless maintains top-of-mind consciousness with sports activities followers.
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As a tobacco farmer and liquor inspector, Bob Beall didn’t know a lot in regards to the pizza biz when he began out with companion Tommy Marcus, however he already had a businessman’s eye for enterprise. In his inspector job, he was aware about eating places’ monetary books and needed in on this moneymaker.
“He educated himself, so there was a variety of trial and error, however that made us who we’re right now,” recounts Jamie Beall, Bob’s grandson and present president and CEO of Annapolis, Maryland-based Ledo Pizza. “We had sq. pizza as an alternative of spherical, provolone versus mozzarella, and a really thick-cut pepperoni. Our fashion got here from not realizing any higher.”
Nonetheless, when the pair opened Ledo Pizza in 1955 in Adelphi, Maryland, Bob’s job expertise paid off. He selected a web site subsequent to the College of Maryland and bordering a dry county—which means clients would flock to the pizzeria to down some booze with their meals. He was additionally a pure promoter, gifting away a toaster (a then-novel gadget) to draw consideration.
Importantly, as a minor-league baseball pitcher, Bob counted many big-name sports activities associates, and so they counted Ledo Pizza as a favourite spot for decent, contemporary pies. Quickly, clients had been visiting to identify legendary company like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath. “That actually put us on the map,” Jamie notes. “A who’s who got here into the restaurant, and it was a staple for the college.”
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Finally, Ledo’s distinctive recipe—sq. with a skinny, pastry-style crust, a sweeter sauce, and salty smoked provolone on high—helped kind the Maryland pizza fashion. The sq. form was borne of necessity: Within the Fifties, spherical pans had been nonetheless new on the pizza scene and arduous to search out, whereas rectangular pans had been available.
When Bob’s son, Bobby, got here into the enterprise within the mid-’80s, he eyed licensing and franchising. With Bob’s blessing, he toyed with a number of ideas, from sit-down dine-ins to carryout-type areas. The enterprise grew organically, pushing out to a bigger radius with three to 5 new items per yr, on common. “They taught the recipes and enterprise—what Ledo is all about,” Jamie explains. “Now we have good meals at a good value in a household environment. However, most significantly, we attempt to make our operations a part of the group.”
Jamie began working on the pizzeria in 1985 and assumed operations in 1998, along with his three brothers as largely silent however concerned companions. He introduced the enterprise into trendy occasions with a POS system and, ultimately, social media and on-line ordering, which solely not too long ago soared from 3% to 35% of complete gross sales (and that’s with out providing supply).
Beneath Jamie’s management, the model continues to take care of top-of-mind consciousness with native sports activities lovers. Ledo Pizza has been a companion of the Baltimore Ravens for 5 straight years. On September 11 this yr, the corporate started providing a particular Ravens Soccer Deal—a two-topping 18″ pizza with a big order of Tacky Garlic Bread and a half-pound of boneless wings for $36.99. The corporate will participate in different Ravens promotions all through the soccer season.
Moreover, in December 2021, Ledo Pizza took benefit of the NCAA’s new Identify, Picture and Likeness (NIL) coverage to chop a sponsorship cope with Maryland Terrapins ahead Donta Scott. Scott served because the model’s ambassador via April 5, 2022. In November 2021, the corporate made the same cope with the Terrapins soccer group’s main broad receiver, Dontay Demus, Jr.
In the present day, Ledo Pizza counts greater than 110 areas in its community—and continues to be rising. “We at all times be sure our present areas are wholesome earlier than we add extra,” Jamie says. “We attempt to preserve a enjoyable, contemporary menu, experimenting with culinary tendencies. However our coronary heart and soul is pizza.”
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s chief copy editor. This text has been expanded from the unique model revealed in August 2021 to incorporate up to date info.