Ledo's roll call is a tasty treat

Review: Its popularity with police officers makes the Columbia pizzeria secure. But good, inexpensive food may explain most of its appeal.

Restaurant Profile

Howard Live

February 24, 2000|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

About 75 percent of the business at Ledo Pizza on Oakland Mills Road in Columbia is takeout, but the other diners may feel particularly safe in Ledo's bright and comfortable restaurant.

That's because the franchise is popular with local police, said assistant manager Kevin Schultz. Good, inexpensive food may explain most of the appeal. A 20 percent discount for local law enforcement may explain the rest.

"It's not mandatory," Schultz said of the discount. "We do it because we like to have them around."

He believes a police presence helps discourage crime. "It's kind of like a trade-off," he said. "We just thought we'd give back to the officers. They do a job for us, so we give a little back to them."

The restaurant is so popular with police that most servers know the officers by first name, Schultz said.

Local firefighters enjoy the same discount, he said, but they usually get four or five pizzas to go instead of eating in the 70-seat restaurant, Schultz said.

Ledo's, which has been at the Columbia location for seven years, is part of a chain that started in Adelphi, in Prince George's County, and is now based in Annapolis. It was founded by Robert L. Beall in 1955 and began franchising in 1989. There are now about 50 restaurants in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, with five or six more being added each year. Beall's daughter, Bea Beall, owns the Columbia restaurant.

All the restaurants serve Ledo's distinctive rectangular pies and thick-cut pepperoni. All are bright and family-friendly, with a green-and-cream color scheme and light oak accents. The servings are generous and prices are reasonable.

"People often ask why Ledo Pizza is rectangular," notes the company Web site (www.ledopizza.com). "The round pizza pans commonly seen today were very new in the 1950s. Rectangular baking pans were readily available, hence the square pizza.

"Since that time, round pans have become the rage as pizza operators are able to cut costs by giving the appearance of more, while actually offering less."

Although pizza is by far the most popular menu item, Ledo also offers such pasta classics as lasagna ($6.95), fettuccine alfredo ($5.59) and cheese ravioli ($5.99). Appetizers include wings ($3.99), baked cheese fries ($3.99) and something called roledo ($3.99), described on the menu as a "crisp pastry filled with melted cheese, pepperoni and select ingredients."

Hamburgers, calzones, soups, salads and a variety of subs also are offered.

Ledo Pizza

Where: 6955 Oakland Mills Road, Suite H, Columbia; 410-381-5550.

Hours: Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Prices: Appetizers: 99 cents to $3.99; entrees: $3.29 to $6.99.

Credit cards: None, but personal checks accepted.

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