The state Department of Environmental Protection purchased the Berkeley Restaurant & Fish Market site for $1.1 million, according to a report on NJ.com.
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, agreed to sell the property to the state.
The couple announced last summer that they are retiring.
The state officially purchased the property on Dec. 30, DEP spokesman Bob Considine told NJ.com.
According to the report, while Considine said that there are “no definitive plans yet” for the property, he said it will be an Island Beach State Park improvement, adding that the state is happy to have had the “rare” opportunity to expand the park.
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.”
Crews began demolishing the structure on Dec. 26.
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 late 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 the late December demolition by stating that “fishmongers everywhere are mourning.”