The S stands for Salvatore Casella who was an Italian immigrant. His snapshot biography was included in his March 1, 1937 obituary printed in The (Hackensack, N.J.) Record.
Mr. Casella, who migrated to this country before 1900 and has lived in Hackensack since 1917, is well known in the First Ward. For a number of years he manufactured carbonated beverages, forming the company known as S. Casella and Sons. Since 1933 he has operated the Fair Grill at 81 Fair Street, Hackensack.
While the facts presented in the obituary are generally in agreement with records from other sources, the time periods are slightly off.
Census records indicate that Casella was born in Italy in 1878 and actually immigrated to the United States in 1904, not prior to 1900. As late as 1920 he was living in New York City. Census records show his residence in 1910 on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and by 1920 he was living on Nineteenth Avenue in Brooklyn. During this time he listed his occupation as a retail dealer in coal and ice.
He was first listed in Hackensack, New Jersey in the 1921-1922 directory. At that time, he was partnered with Mariano Torrisi in a bottling business located at 84 Huyler Street called Torrisi & Casella. The partnership with Torrisi was apparently short-lived and by 1923 Casella was listed individually as a bottler at the Huyler Street address.
By 1925, his sons Russel and Charles had formally joined the business and the company name in the directories was changed to S. Casella & Sons. The business continued to list their address as 84 Huyler Street up through 1931 (the last directory I have access to). Casella also lived at 84 Huyler so it appears that the business was always a small family run operation.
Located within the same block as Casella’s bottling business was the Fair Grill. The Grill’s 81 Fair Street address was in close proximity to 84 Huyler, possibly with adjacent back yards, and it’s apparent that Casella had a connection with the Grill well before the 1933 time frame mentioned in his obituary. This is evidenced by an item that appeared under the heading “Other Arrests” in the May 15, 1929 edition of The Record.
Salvatore Casella of 84 Huyler Street, arrested by Detective-Sergeant Shuart at 81 Fair Street on a charge of violating the Federal Prohibition Act.
Whether he owned the Grill at this time or was just supplying it with illegally bottled beer through the back door is not clear but he certainly owned it in January, 1934 when he applied for a retail liquor license for 81 Fair Street, the address of the Fair Grill. The following “notice of application” appeared in the January 18, 1934 edition of “The Record.”
The Fair Grill under Casella’s management was referred to as everything from a take-out pizza place to an Italian restaurant to a night club in this 1935 advertisement.
Based on annual license renewals, Casella owned the Fair Grill up until his death in March of 1937. Subsequently, in June of that year, his son Russel renewed the license but by 1939 the business was apparently no longer in the family and being run by Paul Maiorisi, who applied for the license renewal in June of 1939.
In the 1950’s a portion of Huyler Street was renamed South State Street. Today, 84 South State Street is a two story building, with commercial at street level and apartments above, that’s located within the block that also includes the 80’s addresses of Fair Street. It’s almost certainly the building where Casella lived and ran his bottling business.
The bottle I found is 27 oz. and machine-made. It’s embossed “S. Casella & Sons” so it likely dates no earlier than 1925 when the company name changed to include “& Sons.” Neither Russel or Charles Casella reference the bottling business in the 1940 census records so I think it’s safe to say that the business had ended by then. More than likely it ended around the time that Casella began to legally run the Fair Grill in the mid 1930’s.