After decades of serving loyal patrons fresh Jersey Shore seafood, crews demolished Berkeley Restaurant and Fish Market today.
A South Seaside Park institution for generations, the iconic restaurant — adjacent to Island Beach State Park with sweeping ocean and bay views — closed in September after the owners, Nick and Carol Barulic, sold the property to the state for an undisclosed sum.
The couple announced last summer that they are retiring.
On Christmas Eve, the couple posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that “[s]o many memories, lives, and loves will disappear in a matter of hours.”
Nick Barulic’s grandfather, a fisherman, bought the business in 1937, later expanding to a two-story restaurant, according to a 2010 New York Times profile. A bar was then added in the 1990s.
In August, news that the restaurant would close spread rapidly among local residents.
“My first job was there, from toast girl to waitress,” said Kimberly Lychock of Toms River, who worked at the restaurant each summer as a teenager. “Sad it’s closing.”
South Seaside Park resident Donnie Whiteman worked at the restaurant for over a decade.
“Best job I’ve ever had with the best friends I’ve made. 16 years proud,” he said. “I’m unemployed! But I love the family and am so happy for them and proud to have been a part of the ‘Berk’ tradition for so long.”
Patrick Sheehy, a seasonal South Seaside Park resident, has deep memories of the establishment.
“Went there almost every year for Mother’s Day and family birthdays. Loved dining while overlooking the sand dunes and the Barnegat Bay. Used to ride my bike and order from the Fish Market at least once a week during the summer,” he said.
“That place will be sorely missed.”
Whiteman summed up today’s demolition by stating that “[f]ishmongers everywhere are mourning.”
Click here to view a video of the early stages of the demolition from JSHN contributor Sally Hart Smith.