He recalls when families with small children in tow flocked to his ice-cream stand - one of a handful of mom and pop stores in the area - and shopped at Barcelos Market for Italian deli meats and Portuguese bread and Zayre department store, before both closed about a decade or more ago.
Today, people from all over are returning to Jackson Street, not just for ice cream, but to fill prescriptions, buy a cup of coffee and a sandwich and to drop off their dry cleaning and shoes for repair.
What was once a neighborhood that became plagued by drugs, car thefts and prostitution, has erupted into a thriving business district once again, business owners and residents said.
"It's good for the neighborhood," Forzese said. "The new businesses attract customers for everybody else. People come have lunch and still come back for ice cream."
Jackson Street, where it meets Swan Street near the Lawrence line, today is Methuen's newest business district. It boasts a mix of national chains (Walgreens and CVS), locally owned franchises (Subway and Dunkin' Donuts), family-owned businesses (China Tea House and Korbani's Bakery), and of course, Findeisen's, which has operated in the same location for 74 years, the last 47 by Forzese.
Tucked between rows of triple-deckers on the Lawrence end and some of Methuen's most beautiful historic homes, the stretch of Jackson Street is a close-knit neighborhood, with a thriving business group and a gaggle of everyday walkers.
"It's a good example of one of the villages of Methuen," said Karen Sawyer, the city's economic and community development director. "We want to promote it and help set up that village. For people who enjoy Methuen's unique character, part of it is having places to go like Jackson Street."
Jackson Street is one of several gateways into Methuen.
For 30 years, Barcelos Market was the cornerstone of the neighborhood. It was part of a chain of grocery stores owned by the Barcelos family.
Residents walked to the store daily for staples, such as milk and bread. Others were attracted by its ethnic foods, which included Italian, Portuguese, Arabic and Spanish items.
"When it closed, it was a sad time for the neighborhood," said City Councilor Kathleen Corey Rahme, who lives nearby. Rahme said her father used to go to the market for black olives.
Barcelos closed in 1998 and with Zayre already shuttered, two large vacancies were left in the plaza, which soon became a popular hangout for street criminals, according to police Chief Joseph Solomon.
"It was really dead. We had drug deals, stolen cars, prostitution behind the building. It also became a dumping ground," said Solomon.
"After Zayre closed, I was by myself," said Forzese, whose shop is smack in the middle of the plaza. "We were broken into a couple of times. It's much better now."
The rebirth, of sorts, began in 2000 when a Walgreens was erected on the Barcelos site. The pharmacy planted grass and shrubs and installed a big road sign to welcome people into the city.
CVS/pharmacy soon followed suit, setting up shop on the opposite corner from Walgreens.
Dunkin' Donuts, Family Dollar, Domino's Pizza and Big Lots, all moved in behind Walgreens, where Zayre had stood.
"Those improvements make a big difference," Sawyer said. "Chains like Walgreens and CVS wouldn't have invested if they didn't think it was a viable area."
The latest addition to the neighborhood came in mid-June when native son Steve Giordano opened a Subway sandwich shop at 40 Jackson St.
Already, Giordano said, the busy intersection has a small town feel, with employees from nearby auto body shops coming in for lunch every day and Giordano running into old friends he grew up with in Methuen.
"This is an up-and-coming area in Methuen," Giordano said. "Obviously, I want to make money, but I also want to help grow this area and be a good part of my community."
But growth has not come without pain.
Ned Leone, 74, has lived in the neighborhood from more than 40 years and said he's seen the good and the not so good aspects of the growth. When he moved to Adelaide Avenue, his was the only house on the street, and much of Jackson Street was an open lot.
"Then more and more activity came to the neighborhood," Leone said.
More recent changes have brought even more traffic and noise, Leone said. But every morning, Leone still enjoys his peaceful walks to Richdale to get his newspaper.
More businesses bringing more people to the area also means less crime, the police chief said.
"With more businesses, there's not as much potential for problems," Solomon said. "Recently, there have been no major issues."
Solomon wants to start a business watch group in the area, similar to one established at The Loop shopping mall, a few miles away on Pleasant Valley Street. The watch group would help businesses become more aware to prevent thefts and other crimes.
"We want to get business owners to talk to each other," Solomon said. "If someone shoplifts somewhere, they would notify each other."
And more good things are coming.
Nemer Korbani, owner of Korbani's Bakery at 77 Swan St., plans to enlarge his bakery and showroom.
"It's a good neighborhood," he said. "It's getting better now."
Three businesses commit to Methuen's Jackson Street neighborhood
Steve Giordano, 34
Lives: in Methuen
Business: Owner of Subway, 40 Jackson St.
Giordano opened his second Subway franchise on Jackson Street in mid-June joining the busy plaza that already includes Walgreens, Dunkin' Donuts and Findeisen's Ice Cream. Giordano was attracted to the location for its convenience and neighborhood feel.
"This is an up-and-coming area of Methuen," Giordano said. "There's fresh businesses here, new families moving in. We already have a few regulars."
The Subway restaurant has 15 employees, mostly high school- and college-age students. Giordano even recruits his family, including dad, City Councilor Larry Giordano, to help with cleaning or prepping food. The Subway doesn't look like most of the popular sub shops' stores - there is a 50-inch plasma television, arm chairs and a mural of an Italian scene on the wall.
"This is what Methuen needs, that neighborhood feel," Giordano said.
Nemer Korbani, 68
Lives: in Salem, N.H.
Business: Owner of Korbani's Bakery, 77 Swan St.
For 41 years, Korbani has been making fresh pita bread, meat pies, grape leaves and other specialty items in his Lebanese bakery. And for the last 21 years, Korbani's Bakery has been in this Swan Street location.
Korbani loves the neighborhood and the easy access for customers coming from Interstate 495. While he's already made a long-term commitment to the area, next year, Korbani plans to expand his business and build a new bakery on the back of the existing store.
"We're going to have a showroom that's five times this size," said Korbani, who also will add more groceries to his store after the expansion.
Like usual, Korbani and his wife, Ellen, will be there before sunrise every morning baking breads and more.
"It's a good neighborhood," Korbani said. "It's getting better now. There are lots of things coming in around here."
Ramez Youssef, 65
Lives: in Methuen
Business: owner of Consentino Shoe Repair, 85 Swan St.
Ramez Youssef was 13 years old when his father taught him how to repair shoes. So when Youssef left Syria and came to the United States in 1974, he worked as a cobbler and soon opened his own shoe shop in Methuen, where he has worked ever since.
For 25 years, he's been in the neighborhood, the first 22 years at 181 Jackson St. and now he has a bigger store on Swan Street. Youssef has one employee, plus his wife and daughter to help him run the retail part of the store. He works in the back of the store 12 hours a day, six days a week.
In his small workshop, Youssef stitches shoes and makes custom-made soles on an 85-year-old piece of equipment that "has never broken down," he said.
"This is my business," Youssef said. "I'm not rich, I'm not poor. I live comfortably. I like my job; I don't want to be retired. I want to keep going while I'm still healthy."