The Verona Inn opened in June 1947 at its original location next to the Annin Flag Company on Bloomfield Avenue. The original Tavern was opened by Mr. John DiBella. He was a successful masonry contractor who always dreamed of owning a restaurant. Despite his wife’s objections, he built a bar in the basement of his home for friends and employees to enjoy.
As his business and popularity grew, he needed more space. He then constructed a building in the middle of his backyard equipped with all of the modern conveniences including a television, refrigerator, bathroom, stove and a telephone. That’s how the Verona Inn continued to operate for 62 years. According to John, “It was easier for us to sleep without all those folks in the basement every night.”
There have been a few owners over the years, the longest tenure prior to ours was Al and Jean Sandin of Verona. They owned and operated it for many years and Al was the author of the Verona Inn business plan that continues today: Offer the very best burger on a great bun and the coldest beer available. In good times and bad, everyone loves cheeseburgers.
The Verona Inn is now serving its fourth generation of customers and will celebrate its 65th year in the summer of 2012. Notable patrons include Governors, Members of Congress, Presidential candidates, sports celebrities, and numerous actors and actresses. Everyone has a favorite Verona Inn story. A notable favorite was when Billy Guerin, a New Jersey Devils player, pulled the Stanley Cup out of the trunk of his car the night they won it and said, “Let’s see if this thing holds beer.” Or the time Mark Gelnaw, a longtime customer and practical joker, called to see if the Inn could keep the kitchen open because Joe Thiesman wanted one of our famous cheeseburgers. Twenty minutes later, in walked Mark and Joe. Or the night the doorman wouldn’t let Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in to film their show without ID. He went on to become a veterinarian because he “just wasn’t good with people.”
Over the years the owners of the Verona Inn were never able to purchase the property from the family members that inherited it and in 2010 environmental issues with the property forced the business to close. The new location, in the middle of town, was originally built as the Verona Butcher Shop and later became the home of Rose Jewelers. We were able to purchase both the old Rose Jewelers and the Verona Camera store, knock most of them down, and build the new Verona Inn.