FORT SMITH, Ark. — Tom Caldarera Jr., the popular restaurant owner and community leader who, along with his family, likely catered thousands of weddings, reunions, wakes and community events in the Fort Smith area, has died. He was 90.
Caldarera opened Taliano’s Italian Restaurant at 14th and B streets in Fort Smith with partner Jim Cadelli in 1970. The restaurant was in the renovated Sparks Mansion built in 1887, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Joe Caldarera, Tom’s son and business partner, said his dad was born and raised in Fort Smith. Tom was an only child and his dad, who emigrated from Sicily and arrived in Fort Smith in 1892, died when Tom was 15. The family, Joe said, has “been in some form of the hospitality industry since 1892,” with many early locations on Garrison Avenue in downtown Fort Smith.
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