Berkeley Restaurant and Fish Market, a South Seaside Park institution for generations, will close in late September, according to a Facebook posting Saturday from its owners, Nick and Carol Barulic, who describe the news as “bittersweet.”
The couple is retiring and has sold the property — which is adjacent to Island Beach State Park at Central and 24th avenues and has ocean and bay views — to the state. The landmark structure will be demolished.
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.
News that the popular establishment is slated for closure spread rapidly among local residents Saturday afternoon.
“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 shares the bittersweet sentiment with the Barulic family.
“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.”
The full statement from Nick and Carol Barulic:
To those patrons who came to our place to celebrate or just get together to share good times. Yesterday I had a lady and her husband come in for dinner to celebrate their first date some 35 years ago. Many memories for many people. For our family it has been our lives for 40 years. The time has come for Nick and I to retire. It is time to make the announcement that the property has been sold to the state to extend Island Beach; the restaurant will be demolished. We will remain open until September 21 and the bar until September 28. At that time we will close one last time. We thank everyone in our past; our friends, our family; our employees past and present and all our patrons over the years. Nick & Carol