Ledo’s in Damascus gets approval to serve alcohol -- Gazette.Net


Ledo’s Pizza in Damascus expects to begin serving beer and wine in about a week, said the owners, who were granted a license after a hearing on Thursday.

“There was no opposition,” said co-owner James Mahoney Jr. after the hearing before the county Board of License Commissioners in Rockville.

Ledo’s is the second restaurant to receive a license following a historic referendum vote in November to overturn an 80-year-old ban on selling alcohol in the Damascus area election district.

New York J&P Pizza in Damascus was the first.

The third business to apply for a beer and wine license is The Music Cafe on Ridge Road, which is scheduled for a hearing on March 7.

Family-owned Ledo’s Pizza, in the Damascus Shopping Center, anchored by Safeway, seats 100 patrons.

The restaurant plans to serve beer and wine as soon as the paperwork is completed and the county does a final inspection.

“We don’t expect things to change much,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney has said he does not expect beer and wine sales to become a big part of the restaurant’s revenue.

“We’re doing this strictly for the convenience of our customers,” he said.

Mahoney and his wife Diana, who live in Damascus, also own and run — with their son James Mahoney III — two pizza restaurants in Frederick that have full liquor licenses.

Nichole Reinhold, who eats dinner at Ledo’s with her daughter, Devin Reinhold, about once a week, said she does not drink, but her husband is looking forward to having a beer with dinner.

“I think it’ll be good for the business,” said Reinhold, who also sees the licensing possibilities as a plus for the community and a potential draw for new restaurants in Damascus.

“I think it’s time for a change,” Reinhold said.

Devin Reinhold, 20, said she still is too young to order a beer or a glass of wine, but she knows young men in their mid-20s who would appreciate ordering a beer with pizza locally rather than going to Germantown while on a date.

“It would be nice to be able to do that in Damascus,” she said.

Meanwhile, beer and wine sales have not caused any problems at New York J&P Pizza, said owner Tina Kiima of Mount Airy.

The restaurant began serving at 5 p.m. Feb. 9. It serves six types of wine for $6 to $7 a glass and five types of beer for $3 to $3.75 per bottle.

“I think it’s terrific, and I think the people think so, too,” Kiima said.

Kiima’s restaurant sold more wine at first, but now sells more beer.

New York J&P Pizza, in the Weis shopping center near Damascus High School, has long been a gathering spot for coaches and teams after games.

Kiima said she does not anticipate underage students trying to order beer or coaches ordering for them, as penalties are severe for serving alcohol to people under 21.

Servers also are trained to check IDs. The practice is to ask for identification for anyone who looks younger than 35.

In his early 30s, a young-looking Travis Swiger said he was carded when he ordered a beer. Swiger, who works in media services at the high school, said he regularly stops for take-out food on his way home to Laytonsville.

“It’s nice to be able to pass the time and order a beer while I’m waiting for the food,” he said Monday.

Nicholas and Barbara Boxwell, who have lived in Damascus for more than 40 years, also are regulars at the restaurant.

They were the first to order a meal when New York J&P Pizza opened about 20 years ago. They eat lunch there three days a week.

“It’s local, the food is good, and the price is right,” said Nicholas Boxwell, 81.

The Boxwells said they used to bring their six grandchildren to celebrate birthdays at the restaurant. Four of their grandchildren also have worked there.

“They’ve worked here, and we’ve been loyal to them,” Barbara Boxwell said.

Both the Boxwells said they don’t see the advent of beer and wine as a problem for the restaurant or Damascus.

“It’s not going to be like a sports bar,” she said. “It’s just going to further the meal.”