Dimitri P. Mallios, Washington’s “dean of Alcoholic Beverage Control attorneys,” died yesterday at 77.

Mallios was first among a relatively small cadre of D.C. attorneys representing restaurants, bars, clubs, and hotels in front of city liquor authorities; his services helped myriad establishments navigate an arcane licensing process and fend off countless neighbors and advisory neighborhood commissions.

He had been battling cancer for more than five years, says his law partner Steve O’Brien. Mallios had been active and practicing before his illness suddenly worsened a week ago.

O’Brien, a longtime competitor of Mallios’ before their practices recently merged, says he cut a swath in the legal community that will not soon be filled. “Dmitri was my partner for three years; he was my friend for 30 years. Everything I know about alcoholic beverage law I learned from Dimitri. He is irreplaceable.”

Legendary trial lawyer Jacob Stein counted Mallios as a friend for 40 years. “Personally, he had a great sense of humor,” he says, and as a lawyer, “he was practical, sensible, empirical, and had no traces of ideology….A client who retained him would get the best service on offer.”

“He was splendid with clients,” Stein added, “and the clients are often very difficult to deal with.”

Laurie Collins, a former ABC board member and a fellow parishioner at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral remembers him as “a sweet, sweet man and a good lawyer.”

“He was loved by not only the business community, which he mostly represented,” she says, “but I think the community was very fond of him. He was very fair.”

Andrew J. Kline, general counsel to the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington and another titan of the liquor bar, remembers him as “someone who was respected by his clients, his colleagues….He knew how to represent folks in the hospitality industry and represent them well.”

The “dean” label, incidentally, was well earned—-Mallios was referred to as such in a footnote to a D.C. Council committee report on a late ’90s rewrite of the city alcoholic beverage laws. LL will also add that Mallios’ checkbook will be missed by city officeholders—-he was a frequent donor to local candidates.

But his friends will miss him more.

Says Kline, “I loved him. He was my friend, and we’ll all miss him a lot.”

Adds Stein, “I really, really miss him. He is a part of my own existence. There are certain things that he and I knew about that we would talk about, and now have I no one to talk about them with.”

UPDATE, 2:49 P.M.: Lynne Breaux, RAMW president, notes that Mallios was recipient of her organization’s Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award this year. That honor goes to “an individual whose dedication and leadership have helped transform Washington’s restaurant scene into today’s vibrant and thriving industry.”

His write-up in the awards program: “Known as the dean of Washington’s Alcoholic Beverage Control attorneys, Dimitri Mallios is also called THE man to know…and the man to thank when you order your next margarita. Dimitri grew up in the restaurant business in DC – Trio, one of Washington’s classics – and attended GWU, undergraduate and law, giving him a distinct advantage of native regional knowledge. As described by the Washington Business Journal, Dimitri is “soft spoken but effective. Direct but respectful. Tough but good hearted.” A rare individual and an exceptional lawyer, we toast Dimitri Mallios and his significant contribution to the restaurant industry in the Washington Metropolitan area.” More here.

UPDATE, 9/21: Restaurateur and impresario Joe Englert offers a less reverent but plenty heartfelt tribute to Mallios at Young & Hungry.