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.