C. Nicholas BeLerRestaurateurC. Nicholas BeLer, co-owner of...


C. Nicholas BeLer


C. Nicholas BeLer, co-owner of the Prime Rib Restaurants in Baltimore and Washington, died of cancer Friday in his home in Washington. The Baltimore native was 63.

Born to a family of restaurateurs -- his parents, Cleo H. and Peter BeLer, had owned the North Inn in Baltimore and the Williamsburg [Va.] Restaurant for many years -- Mr. BeLer initially broke with tradition when he chose a career.

After graduating from McDonogh School in 1949, he earned a degree in genetics from the Johns Hopkins University and went to work with the Food and Drug Administration.

After a year of government work, he joined his parents at the Williamsburg Restaurant, then returned to Baltimore to pursue a law degree at the University of Baltimore.

But when a little restaurant known as the Horizon House on Calvert and Chase streets went up for sale, he found the opportunity was too good to pass up.

"We had all of Baltimore in there," said Mr. BeLer's brother and business partner, C. Peter "Buzz" BeLer, recalling the first Prime Rib, which opened in 1965. The brothers modeled their restaurant after a Manhattan, N.Y., restaurant they admired.

"We always wanted to open a restaurant that we would be comfortable in," Mr. BeLer said. "It had a very limited menu, with maybe five items. But it was very successful."

Nicholas BeLer then opened the Tom Jones restaurant in Towson and sold it when the brothers opened the second Prime Rib on Washington's K Street in 1976.

"David Shea, president of the Baltimore liquor board, said to me, 'You've got to be crazy, going to Washington where they've got all those fancy French restaurants,' " Peter BeLer said. "I told him, 'We're not opening a French restaurant. We're opening a restaurant with American cuisine in the nation's capital, something it sorely needs.' "

Nicholas BeLer, who managed the Washington restaurant while Peter BeLer managed the Baltimore business, was honored twice in the Washington area as Restaurateur of the Year.

The Baltimore and Washington restaurants also have received the Distinguished Restaurants of North America Award.

A memorial service is scheduled for 6 p.m. today at the Gawlers Funeral Home chapel, 5130 Wisconsin Ave. in Washington.

In addition to his brother, Mr. BeLer is survived by his nephew, Peter Hill BeLer of Washington.

Edward L. Pease Jr.

School photographer

Edward Leon Pease Jr., a school photographer for four decades, died Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., of complications from a stroke. He was 66.

Mr. Pease, who retired in 1992 after operating Pease Studios in Pasadena, had lived in Pensacola since September.

He graduated from Presbyterian College in 1954 and served in the Army in England as a barber.

A memorial service was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today at McCully Funeral Home, Mountain and Tickneck roads, Pasadena.

He is survived by his wife of 15 years, the former Mary Kathleen O'Connor; two sons, Edward L. Pease III of Lansdowne and James F. Pease of Linthicum; two daughters, Alice Anne Ford of Easton and Terry Elizabeth Devore of Salisbury, N.C.; a sister, Leah Pease of Rockville; and four grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.

Memorial donations can be made to Thornwell Home and School for Children, where he grew up after his parents died when he was 7. The address is P.O. Box 60, Clinton, S.C. 29325.

Bernard Bloch, 85, who worked in Baltimore garment factories between 1940 and 1948 and again from 1962 and 1967 and retired in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1970, died in New Orleans on April 6 of complications from a viral infection.

A memorial service was to be held today at Tikvat Shalom Synagogue in New Orleans.

Mr. Bloch is survived by three sons, Dr. Daniel Bloch of New Orleans, Norman Bloch of Spencerport, N.Y., and Gene Bloch of Mountain View, Calif.; a sister, Pauline Moskowitz of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations can be made to the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, 101 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore 21201; or the Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, 4705 Iberville St., New Orleans 70119.

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