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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.

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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