Jack Foresta

Jack Foresta

Recently I had a nice chat with Jack Foresta about the Foresta family’s long history in the meat industry.

Young Jack (Vince John Foresta) was born 90 years ago on the northside of Phoenixville. The family, including his parents and two sisters, Marie and Shirley, lived at 121 High St.

His grandfather had a small homestyle neighborhood slaughtering business located in a small building away from the house that led to the opening of a shop at 214 St. Mary St. In 1939, Jack’s father, John Foresta, moved the shop to Church Street. In the early 1940s, the facility was turned over to Uncle Bill Foresta.

Father John opened a slaughtering house on West Bridge Street at Pothouse Road called Foresta Abattoir. A house for the family was built on the property. The abattoir was sold and stood vacant for 20 years, at which time the Forestas bought back the slaughtering property.

Jack was working for Uncle Bill on Church Street and also dealing with some slaughtering on Bridge Street. Uncle Bill confronted Jack, asking which place did he really want to work.

Jack answered the facility on Bridge Street, so Uncle Bill fired him on the spot. Jack went home and told his wife, Mary Jean, he did not have a job. So he decided to develop a business. In bits and pieces, the Foresta Market was started.

Jack and Mary Jean Keen from Spring City were married in 1950. There are three children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchilden, with two more expected in April.

Over the years and in between, Jack worked for local meat packing houses. Along with Uncle Bill, there were M.W. Roberts and A.C. Roberts.

Ten years ago, Jack turned the business over to son Scott. Today, Scott and his two sons, Chris and Mark, are in charge. Along, with the very popular market, they have been developing a catering business.

Jacks likes to cook; Mary Jean is the cleaner-upper person. He cooks all kinds of foods. He is fond of seafood and shellfish, as well as meat. In fact, to celebrate his 90th birthday, there was a clambake in his honor.

Jack tells a funny story about when the market carried seafood and shellfish. When he complained to the supplier that there were bugs all over, the supplier told him parasites are common with seafood and shellfish. Well, that was the end of the Forestas selling them as he was not fond of bugs in products sold in his market.

Whenever I am in Phoenixville, I stop by the market for lunch meats, as well as other meats and items I may need. At times, the lunch meat counter gets very busy. There is no number system; each customer patiently waits their turn. I have never seen anyone jump in before their turn. If it happens, it is usually by mistake.

Jack likes to create new dishes. The other day, he stuffed multi-colored mini bell peppers with ground sausage and baked them in the oven. He stated, “Boy, they were good.”

Let Bette hear from you: banjack303@verizon.net. Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well phoenixvillenews.com (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.

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