“Its About time you stopped in,” the story of Billy and Madeline Customers Bid Farewell To Iconic Tavern

The stories at Billy and Madeline’s are endless. My wife Nancy and I would work late hours in our early years of marriage and stop in at least twice a week for dinner. We became super close with Billy and
Madeline. Nancy and I are very thankful for our relationship with such wonderful people.
Billy grew up working at his parent’s bar, known as Fornaro’s Tavern in Whippany, established in 1933. His parents proudly announced their retirement and the opening of Billy’s Red Room in 1959. With
Billy’s charismatic personality, the Red Room instantly became a place where everybody was welcomed.
People told stories, laughed, cried, and shared all their lives. Many couples met, had their first kiss, fell in love, got engaged, and some ladies went into labor there.
Shortly thereafter, Madeline, who lived a block away, was working on a Girl Scout Badge. She was riding her bicycle past the tavern one day, when a thunder and lightning storm forced her and her girlfriend to seek shelter until the storm passed. Billy welcomed them in and brought two sodas to their table. The girls told their story when they got home and never forgot Billy’s kindness and generosity. When Billy opened the first pizzeria in Whippany, Madeline was a frequent customer.
As the years went on, their paths crossed many times as they would see each other out socially. Their first date was a candle light dinner and their next date was a fishing trip. Billy, with the help of his sister Celeste, took wonderful care of his aging parents in their home above the bar, a quality Madeline admired.
In 1980, after an eight-year courtship, Billy and Madeline were married at Our Lady of Mercy Chapel, in Whippany, where they were both baptized and had an “Open Invitation” wedding at the tavern. It was a celebration that the town still talks about.
Madeline reflected on seeing the bar for the first time after the fire, “as I walked through what remained of the almost unrecognizable building, the feeling of grief was overwhelming. Knowing that our future would depend on our disposition and not the circumstance. Looking around for the last time, all that came to mind was the indescribable relief I felt when Billy was safely in my arms outside the burning building. Although this tragedy has taken so much, it has given us the time to really enjoy our
Golden Years together.”
Billy and Madeline created a place where there were no strangers, only friends that have not met yet.
It is Billy’s fault that I have become the angler that I am today and very thankful. I learned from the best. We are very sad, yet super happy for Billy and Madeline to finally slow down and focus on entertaining each other as they have done for others over the years. Madeline once told me, “we don’t live in reality, we live in a tavern entertaining people to escape from reality for a brief moment.” Billy and Madeline love all their customers, friends and family and I know they will miss them.
We wish nothing but health and happiness to both Billy and Madeline. Thank you for all the stories and memories which are vaulted in our hearts forever. Our boys will always remember the dollar and Swedish Fish that Billy would immediately give to them as soon we were seated. I asked Billy one day why he gave the dollar and Swedish Fish. He told me when he was a child his father would take him to the barber and even if the barber would have cut his ear off, he would always go back because he
gave him candy. So the next time parents asked their kids where they would like to go to dinner, they would tell their parents “Billy’s!”
This is one of the million stories one would hear from Billy, some rated PG, and some rated R.
Never forget the significance of “parsley,” Billy’s lifelong customers will understand! God bless you both and continue to entertain each other, we love you!
Nancy and Mark Brzozowski, longtime customers

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