COMMUNITY PRIDE: The Barry Walshe family turned out at Malarky's in support of Newport Elementary School. (March 23, 2011)

One of the strongest bonds in Newport-Mesa is evident in how local businesses support community needs and causes.

The financial commitment of business assisting local health and welfare, education and social services is a hallmark of community goodwill. This has developed through the decades into a strong tradition. Clearly, it is a tradition that is good for business and good for society.

In old Newport Beach, a pub and dining room on the Balboa Peninsula that we fondly know as Malarky's was established in 1977 by Newport restaurateur Bill Hamilton Sr. Hamilton, who also founded the iconic Cannery Restaurant on the waterfront, opened Malarky's Irish Pub in one of the original early 20th century structures on Newport Boulevard near City Hall.

After 33 years in business, Hamilton retired and sold Malarky's to Newport Beach resident and youthful restaurateur Mario Marovic, the entrepreneur behind Corona del Mar's successful Landmark Steakhouse on East Coast Highway and other restaurant/pubs in Orange County. As both a resident and businessman in the community, Marovic's goal is to be a steward of good citizenship, fostering and promoting the relationship between business and community.

He is working with Newport Beach officials on a redevelopment and expansion plan of the old Malarky's to include a new restaurant with the pub. The City Council recently granted conditional approval for the expansion with negotiation of details ongoing.

In an interview, Marovic, a thirtysomething maverick businessman whose family roots hail from Split, Croatia, emphasized with seriousness his role of partnering with the community.

"Malarky's recently sponsored an event for Newport Elementary School where we had parents of the local children guest bartending to help raise funds for Newport Elementary," Marovic said.

"John Wodsworth, Barry Walshe and John Barron stood behind the bar and raised more than $2,000, with all of the profits from the night going to Newport Elementary," he added. "The evening was such a success [that] the school is planning a second event before summer."

The enthusiastic Marovic proudly shared that the success of the Newport Elementary event has fostered a similar plan for Mariners Elementary School in Newport Beach. Parents of Mariners school children plan to raffle off guest bartending positions to help raise even more money for the school. A date for the night at Malarky's will be set later this spring.

"On April 14, we are hosting Orangewood Children's Foundation for a $25 per person prime rib dinner in our restaurant, with all profits going to Orangewood," Marovic said. "Tickets are on sale now for this great cause. Just call Malarky's to make your reservation."

Working for local schools and the Orangewood Children's Home are just a part of Marovic's involvement with the community. He and his staff have also taken on the role of helping local individuals in need.

On Feb. 28, Malarky's raised funds for a member of the local culinary industry who was critically injured in a bicycle accident. Monies raised were donated to assist this man in covering his loss of income due to the accident. More than 300 people converged on Malarky's to contribute to the assistance drive.

The renovation of the pub's parking area has also been put to community use. Marovic turned the lot into a classic car fundraiser honoring the memory of cancer victim Brad Williams in a second annual event that raised significant money donated to the Hoag Cancer Center in Williams' name.

"It is very important to me to have a connection to this community on a level that matters to my customers," Marovic said. "It's not just because it is good business, but it is because so many people in the community have so many fond memories of Malarky's. it is simply a part of their lives, which makes it all the more important to support the schools, Hoag Hospital, and the people in the community who need help. That is, after all, the great honored tradition of a community pub and restaurant."

For more information on the upcoming events, including reservations for the Orangewood Prime Rib Dinner fundraiser, call Malarky's at (949) 675-2340.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.