May 19, 2024

Cutting the ribbon on Roman Plaza: Stuart Waldman, Meina Chen and Tracey Chan, the latter two of Asian Foods. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — At the new Roman Plaza official grand opening on Thursday afternoon, developer Stuart Waldman stood under a balloon arch with a pair of giant scissors. Just as he went in for the ceremonial ribbon cut, an eagle soared above the parking lot.
“It’s truly an American dream!” shouted one person from the crowd of onlookers.
Waldman concurred and added, “This shopping center is not only a dream, it has been seven years in the making. It’s dedicated to Roman Blum, a Holocaust survivor who once owned this land.”
Scenes from the grand opening of Roman Plaza in Mariners Harbor, seven years in the making. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)
Blum, a low-key millionaire who died at 97, had no heirs. He left behind a real estate legacy and $40 million fortune divvied up by the state as familial claims never came to fruition. About eight acres of this parcel in Mariners Harbor have become a sprawling shopping complex anchored by fast food eateries and a soon-coming supermarket.
The site is a 86,250-square foot shopping center parsed into six buildings.
Waldman acknowledged the workers on the site, some present at the celebration who personally cleared the land several years ago, and family. His two sons, Joe and Ben Waldman, clapped for their dad.
“It’s a big day for pops,” said a smiling Ben, who operates a shop in the center, Retro’D Sneakers. “I’m excited for the buildings to be finally open, excited about what’s to come for Staten Island.”
Ben Bifalco is the president and CEO of Unforgettable Construction and Consulting, the builder of a handful of the eateries in the complex — Asian Foods, Teriyaki One, Charley’s Cheesesteaks, OK Chinese BBQ and Roman Convenience Store.
He said, “This shopping center is a culmination of hard work, true dedication, long-hours, and most importantly the ability of finding the perfect balance between patience and persistence. Everyone had an important role to play and was crucial to the success of this project. When great minds come together, the community wins.”
From left to right: Stuart Waldman, Congresswoman Nicole Maliotakis, broker and NYS Assembly candidate Joe Tirone and Vito Fossella Sr. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)
Bifalco is the second contractor to work on Asian Foods. He said he took the job on Sept. 22. He said he expedited the fire inspection system inspection, which took place Oct. 6.
Asian Foods owner Jonathan Chan said he was reluctant to stock shelves before the inspection.
“I was going to have a heart attack,” he said of the anticipation. The supermarket passed muster. Chan said he will open “softly” on Oct. 20 and have the grand opening — hopefully with traditional Chinese lion dancers — in early November.
Bifalco said the Roman Plaza will bring about 400 jobs to Mariners Harbor. The Phoenix Salon, also opening soon, alone employs 100.
Scenes from the grand opening of Roman Plaza in Mariners Harbor. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)
Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis and Joe Tirone, a real estate broker and candidate for the Republican/Conservative slot for New York State Senate, also spoke.
Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at
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