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Vila Meats Sold, New Owners Take Over This Week

Caldwell butcher shop changing hands after more than three decades. Transformation of property begins with tearing down Fotomat hut.

Longtime Vila Meats owner Larry Rosanio confirmed Monday after three decades he is handing the Caldwell butcher shop and Italian specialty market over to new owners.

The transition is set to take place at the end of this week, said Rosanio, who opened the well-loved shop in 1982. 

“Thirty-one years, I’m out," he said. "I'm done."

Rosanio, a man of few words, is known by many for his generosity. It was not uncommon for him to donate meat for fundraisers and other events in the community.

"Larry is one of the most generous [businessmen] in town," a reviewer wrote on Yelp.com in 2010. "He freely donates food to charity organizations and the like — Caldwell is a better place because of him."

The new owners have plans to tear down the current one-story building and construct a new building closer to the Bloomfield Avenue end of the lot, he said.

The first step in the transformation was demolishing the Fotomat hut that stood empty in the Vila Meats parking lot for decades.

The removal of the iconic pyramid-roofed structure early last week came as a surprise to many, including Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing. 

“Checking with our Construction Office, they were also surprised to see it had been removed, since the proper permits were not sought and issued ahead of the removal,” Dassing said. “To that end, we have issued a Notice of Violation for not having the proper permits to remove a structure.” 

Dassing called the tiny square building an “icon.”

At its peak in 1980, the Fotomat retail chain had 4,000 kiosks around the country, according to Wikipedia. Fotomats offered drive-through, same-day photo finishing.

“I am sad to see it go,” she said. “I feel it was yet another icon that set us apart from other towns in the area.”

Rosanio said although the business changes hands this week he will be around overseeing the transition through the end of the month.

Heidi January 15, 2013 at 09:54 PM
Michael you are too funny......yet isadly so true......
Beth Endersby January 15, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Never really thought of the old booth as an "icon". It was more like a bulletin board for events happening in town. Sad that this is what our mayor considers a Caldwell "icon". I agree with the person above .... the business pays taxes and if it wants to get rid of the old run down booth on their property, more power to them. The only reason the town cares that the booth is down is because they didn't get money for a permit.
Cj January 16, 2013 at 01:00 AM
I agree with the Mayor. There are some things in towns that can no be replaced and lately we are losing them all. The jail which should have somehow been saved or used for the townhomes. The tree that had to be cut down at the church. The Mayor did the right thing by finding out why this photo booth was taken down. People can not just do what the want and frankly I do not understand them taking it down without asking someone???? Now the building is going to take up the parking lot. Just imagine that end of Park Ave with everyone parking where there is no parking. The might have been better taking over the DeMarie store.
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon January 16, 2013 at 04:20 AM
R.H.I.N.O.'s? Pray tell, what does the H stand for and why did you make it possessive?
Michael January 16, 2013 at 08:43 PM
CJ next time you cut your lawn, you better call the town, or I'm going to tell the Mayor.
WCaldwelldweller January 17, 2013 at 04:35 PM
That Fotomat booth created a parking nightmare and was an eyesre that was out of place. Have you ever watched the cottontops that frequented Vila Meats trying to negotiate around that thing? A three piont turn turned into a 1/2 hour ordeal for them. Good riddance!
Cj January 17, 2013 at 04:47 PM
You are right WCaldwelldweller it was not the best parking arrangment but imagine what it is going to be now. NO parking if they are making that building that much bigger. People will be illegally parked all over Park AVe just like they are doing on Brookside now. That street is a nightmare at night with people using the restaurant. Never mind I just wonder if this town is trying to put Jacks out of business. Seems like it with no parking and now a bigger food store across the street. Jack has been wonderful to this town just like Villa and should not be hurt by all this.
Claudia January 17, 2013 at 05:13 PM
there was a photo hut there?
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon January 18, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Republican Hack In Name Only? Seems like a double negative. Why not stick with the traditional RINO to supplement your rants about Libs?
Apu Nahasapeemapetilon January 18, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Do you know what a double negative is?
Fara Sanchez January 18, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Thank you Larry for your generosity to our veterans we wish you well.
Giokas January 21, 2013 at 06:12 PM
It's amazing to me that most of the feedback is against the mayor enforcing rules of the town. The photo booth was Iconic is this town. That's the problem with society today. So quick to take down the old and put up new without any regard for history. Rules are rules and if they are broken its the job of our mayor to enforce them. Having said that; I wish Larry the best. It was always a pleasure to shop at Villa Meats. I also wish the new owners many years of success.
Beth Endersby January 21, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Oh my word, you just don't get it. People are tired of paying taxes and having NO rights. The tax payer that took down the old, eyesore hut that was blocking all of the parking in their parking lot, had every right to do so. The town is only upset because they didn't get money for a permit. "Iconic" does not describe an old booth that was only used as a billboard for upcoming events. The government is choking the people. After all of that ... good luck to the new owner, all the best to Larry.
Cj January 22, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Again I applaud the Mayor. More needs to be done in this respect. You would not want me as Mayor. I would be ticketing everyone for not following the ordinance's of the town. That is how these towns become like the citys. I have watched recently two of my neighbors not shoveling the snow from their walks. Not once have they picked the shovel up. One never did their own walks. If I were the mailman they wouldnt get mail. I have watched while the new house they are building on Wakefield were working on Sundays and Holidays. I watch while garbage cans float around the streets because people are to lazy to pick them up after the garbage is collected. I have watched while people put piles of leaves in the street when we clearly have certain weeks for leaf collection. I watched while some "illegals" were building what could have been an apartment in a garage. I am thankful for the ordinance's we have and appreciate when the Mayor does follow them or just imagine what this town would look like. If I were Mayor and I found out any of this was happening and I had to tell someone a second time. That second time would be a ticket in their hands
Michael January 22, 2013 at 03:13 PM
CJ you really are not thinking clearly... the sidewalk is the towns property, so yes if you don't shovel it you should be fined, the garbage cans blowing around on public property is diiferent than blowing around on private property, The mailman does have the option of not delivering under unsafe conditions. We are talking about Private Property rights to take down a small structure.
Cj January 22, 2013 at 03:48 PM
I guess you are right Michael but then where do you draw the line? What is a private property owner allowed to take down? There has got to be some kind of ordinance's regarding this even on private property or the town will really go down hill. I can not believe you are in favor of this building be extended towards the Avenue. Imagine the parking there. Everyone thinks that parking lot is horrible. Well just imagine when they extend the building and there is NO parking. You think people will park in lots. NEver .They will be parking illegally all over Park ave and Bloomfield. Just like Brookside right now. Its horrible. Cars were parked there Friday night illegally all over that street. They need to do something about that street.
Michael January 22, 2013 at 04:16 PM
If they are adding or building a new structure, of course permits would have to be pulled as the new structure would need to meet current regulations. Had someone proposed to build that photo hut exactly where it stood a few weeks back, it would never had been approved for several reasons. I have offered ideas to the town, but obviously I don't have the credentials nor does Caldwell really listen to anyone not connected with political or financial power, so It's really not about making drastic changes for Caldwell, for these people it's how do we work with what we have and appease just the handful that really benefit(usually the politically connected). If you are upset about a town proposal, you go to the town meetings, If you show up with an obvious amount of citizens against it, most times they hold you off a few hours to get you bored and worn down, then they postpone the proposal for some cooked up reason so that you have to keep on your toes and go to every minute of every meeting, until finally they widdle away the group against to a small few, this works because as busy people we are trying to provide for our families and can't spend every waking minute watching what these clowns are passing. So most likely if the building is going to be moved, the new owner would have to have some clout in town, or jump through hoops to appease those with the almighty power of Government.
Michael January 22, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Cj you are right about the parking conditions, and these could have been corrected years ago, but ignored. The old repair shop on Bloomfield and Roseland was pushed out to make way for another bank, it could have been a stratigic municipal parking lot and used for the church when needed instead of the Diners lot. Personette st. should be an entrance to municipal parking and not connect all the way through so only west bound bloomfield can make a right into it for parking, east bound would have to make the left onto smull to access the parking, Personette itself would connect the lots together without pass through traffic interfering and prevents left turns from east bound bloomfield to avoid the backup by the intersection that always occurs. The exit for the diner should be on westville and brookside, and change Brookside to one way towards bloomfield ave, of course you would have to add a light so a left turn onto the Ave can be made as well as right, by doing this, you connect the diner lot to the foodtown lot,"if you go down the diner lot and it is full, you can exit westville, come up Brookside,and enter the foodtown lot, traffic wishing to exit the diner wanting to just go to the ave, can use the small access driveway that leads to Brookside, either way, the bloomfield entrance to parking would be entrance only and the lot would have 2 exits.
Michael January 22, 2013 at 05:50 PM
the foodtown lot would have 2 entrances and 2 exits, 1 exit now being between the body shop and 1 entrance at the lower end on brookside, Gould would have the 2 existing. West bound ave traffic would have roseland/westville or gould for access to south stores, forest, personnette, and smull for north stores. East bound would have gould, caldwell diner for south stores, and smull and forest for north stores. I would like to see stores chip in for valet parking on or off the ave whichever is safest for loading and unloading, and I would eliminate most bloomfield ave meters, in favor of meters possibly on Westville, Smull, Brookside, Gould, and forest. It's been awhile since I have been down those streets but i believe westville is wide enough to do that without causing a danger to the exit of the diner lot but would double check that.
Michael January 22, 2013 at 05:55 PM
of course the main focus while trying to implement something like this, would be to try to focus money's to buy property for municipal parking, instead of lots in the middle of the woods that serve no purpose. If you can get the ave to thrive again you can raise rents and taxes, right now these stores get nothing for their rent/tax dollars, and all these meters on the ave cause traffic congestion and visually block these stores.
Michael January 22, 2013 at 06:06 PM
27 personnette although maybe to far down might be utilized as the valet parking lot, I believe the town owns that building but not sure. If so knock it down for all day parking or valet parking.
Michael January 22, 2013 at 06:37 PM
this would probably need a traffic study, etc. etc. no one on the ave can even put a sign up without poo poo from the town, so I don't think you have much to worry. It would also be foolish to take up the whole lot with a structure, If anything... move the existing structure to the ave and have the parking on the opposite side, it might prevent all the rear end accidents that happen when east bound traffic is making a left onto park, that is a very dangerous left turn, its hard to see a vehicle coming out of that lot from the left, especially if you have 1 or 2 cars lined up at the light facing south, so the driver just heading north on park stops, the left turning car following behind is looking for pedestrians, cars coming westbound and blinded by the cars A-pillar suddenly sees tailights sitting on its hood.
anthony j. popola January 22, 2013 at 06:49 PM
did it ever occur to you that people work and can't pick up their garbage cans immediately...i'm glad you aren't my neighbor..
Michael January 22, 2013 at 06:53 PM
21 Smull is commercial property for sale very close to the existing parking.
Michael January 22, 2013 at 06:55 PM
does that property back up against the parking lot ?
Michael January 22, 2013 at 07:05 PM
how about the american legion building? whats going on with that ghost?
Mark Edmunds January 23, 2013 at 04:36 PM
I alway's thought that the photo booth could have been utilized by; the Police as an info booth and an officer presence in the 'downtown' area or the Chamber of Commerce info center
Mark Edmunds January 23, 2013 at 05:54 PM
The "new" traffic paterns in Caldwell are horrible, 35 minutes to get from the Essex Fells Police station to bloomfield ave. The county must be in bed with the gas companys. 25-30 minutes from the old Ace hardware to Forte's! something has to break, plus I hate all the nyc commuters that line Arlington Ave for 12 hours a day! I guess us apartment dwelers don't count here. Try that up the further up the street and see how long the tax payers put up with that
anthony j. popola January 24, 2013 at 07:44 PM
25-30 min. from Ace to Forte ? you must be walking....and by the way,I live further up that street...some of those people can't walk up that hill. You have a lot ,don't you ?
Scott Williams February 02, 2013 at 05:45 PM
I totally agree with Jim. As a business owner whose business does not front on Bloomfield Ave., I can understand why the new owner wishes to construct a new building on the corner. Visibility and exposure means a lot. Even though it is an established business, he needs to do what he can to move it forward. What was that old Fotomat building doing for the community anyway? Yes there are regulations regarding demolition and construction, and he probably should have checked before proceeding. Local government should cut business owners some slack, especially in this difficult economy.

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