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Mario’s Restaurant Takes Former Surfside Space

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

A restaurant to be named Mario’s will open in Glover Park at 2444 Wisconsin Avenue, formerly occupied by Surfside, which moved up to Tenleytown. The building has been vacant for a couple of years. Mario Jelencovich, an experienced Washington DC restauranteur, is taking the lead with his business partner Abdul Aziz Safi. They plan to offer “American cuisine” at the 175 seat restaurant with a roof deck that seats an additional 50 people. They have applied for a Class ‘C’ liquor license (without entertainment) and plan to have the restaurant open until 3 am Friday and Saturday, 2 am other days.

Mario was a star goalie for the University of Maryland’s soccer team back in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, going undefeated in 1968 and tying Michigan State for the national co-championship. He met his wife, Sandra Naing at college. Sandra emigrated from Myanmar back in 1968 as a political refugee. She worked at the IMF and the couple had two children, Michael and Marco Jelencovich, who help run the family restaurant business now. Sadly, their mother passed away in 2019.

The Jelencovich family has been involved in running various bars and restaurants in the area, including Mezza Luna, Panache, Parlay, and Bourbon, all of which are closed now it seems and all were in the Dupont/Adams Morgan neighborhoods. Parlay was a sports bar, while Panache was described as a tapas bar; Mezza Luna a casual combo bar/restaurant, and Bourbon the whiskey bar/casual restaurant sister to the Glover Park Bourbon that closed years ago. The family even had a brief stint running Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe in Clarendon, though that has closed as well. It is rumored that Mario even has a little niche down in Costa Rica coincidentally named Mezza Luna.

Mario’s has a hearing with the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration on October 18th, with any protest petitions due by September 27th. One cannot run such a restaurant successfully without a liquor license, so there is a lot riding on a clear hearing. Expect Mario’s to open a few months later, then you’ll be able to get a margarita and some appetizers (or an appetizer and some margaritas) and sit in the sunshine on the upper deck.

Chris Jones

Pic of the 1968 University of Maryland Soccer team national champions, with Mario Jelencovich (goalie jersey, standing middle) from the Terp Report:

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Jan 15, 2022

I’ve spoken to their staff several times over the past week and, come hell or high water, Mario’s Restaurant will open next Friday. It may be too late now to enjoy their rooftop deck, but I’ll wager real money that we experience one or more heat waves before March 21.

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