EXETER — After 49 years in the food industry, Bernie Foglia is ready to call it quits.
The 75-year-old has been the owner/operator of the Villa Foglia restaurant since 1966 and recently put it up for sale for $449,900 through Lewith & Freeman Real Estate in Kingston.
The Italian restaurant has a menu that includes soups, salads, hot sandwiches, finger foods, pizza, spaghetti and seafood.
It seats 78 people and holds parties and special events.
Foglia, 75, said it’s time for him to hang up the apron.
“I’m 75 years old and I can’t do the things I used to do as easily,” he said. “It’s just starting to get tiring and it’s not as much fun as it used to be.”
Foglia has received interest from potential buyers and understands anyone who purchases the restaurant can do as they please with it.
“I would like to see it retain its originality, but at the same time I don’t care,” he said. “They could put a pet store in here for all I care. The place is for sale and includes the liquor license, furniture and equipment so the obvious thing would be for someone to come in and operate it the way it was. The bottom line is, I really don’t care what they do with it; I would like to see them keep it how it is, but if not, I won’t lose a wink of sleep over it.”
Foglia began his journey with Villa Foglia in 1966 after he returned from the Navy.
He was recruited by Pete Bay to operate Pete’s Pizza, now the location of A&A Auto Stores on Wyoming Avenue in Exeter.
“Pete was kind of like my mentor and he’s the one who got me started,” he said. “I was there from 1966 until 1972 and was renting from Pete. He had diabetes very bad and was going blind very bad, but he said, ‘Bernie, I know you’re not working because you just got out of the Navy. You want to help me out?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll help you out.’”
When Bay’s health deteriorated, he asked Foglia to take over his business permanently and Villa Foglia was born.
The restaurant moved to where Pizza L’Oven is now on Wyoming Avenue in Exeter, and then to its current location. Foglia also ran a restuarant called the Nook, which is now Cooper’s on the Waterfront in Pittston, for a year while operating Villa Foglia.
In addition to operating the restaurant, Foglia and his wife, Karen, 57, have two daughters Maria, 31, and Theresa, 29, both enrolled in college in California.
Karen still works in the restaurant a few nights a week, and their daughters contributed when they were growing up.
“Raising a family is difficult to begin with, but raising a family while running a business is something that requires a lot of patience and there is a lot of regret involved,” Foglia said. “The kids were never neglected and never had a want for much materialistically and emotionally. To this day, when I talk to them, I tell them how much I love them.”
Foglia does not want his daughters to take over the businesses and wants them to get good educations and create better futures for themselves.
Spending more time with them is another reason he is anxious to sell the restaurant.
After the restaurant is eventually sold, Foglia said he will miss socializing with the people, but is unsure what life has in store for him in retirement.
“I don’t know what I’ll do, but I want the opportunity to find out,” he said.
Foglia is not the only restaurant owner looking to sell, as Grico’s Restaurant in Exeter is also for sale for $950,000 by Century 21 Smith Hourigan Group in Shavertown and Cooper’s on the Waterfront in Pittston is for sale for $1,475,000 by Mericle Commercial Real Estate in Wilkes-Barre.