CLARK, NJ - After 41 years of owning O'Johnnie's, Jerry Bertekap has decided to retire. He is looking forward to sunnier days fishing, boating and relaxing on the beaches of Florida with his wife.
Bertekap said a non-refundable deposit was accepted and his retirement and legal transfer of the business will take place by the end of this year.
“I will never forget the customers of O'Johnnie's and the joy I had in helping everyone,” said Bertekap. “I sincerely thank all the customers for their business and hope they will be happy with the new owner and the changes he makes.”
According to Bertekap he bought the business from John Peterson in 1976 a former military man who used his army KP (Kitchen Patrol) experience to start what was originally called Johnnie's Variety Corner. Bertekap said thanks to a popular song at the time, locals starting calling the store O'Johnnie's so Peterson changed the name to O'Johnnie's Variety Corner.
At that time the store included a luncheonette with counter and table service as well as kites, wagons, lotions, soap, sunglasses and Dolly Madison ice cream. Over time the store evolved to include gifts, greeting cards, stationery, newspapers and magazines.
The future of O'Johnnie's has not been made official. A mailer distributed earlier this year may give a clue to the location's destiny. The postcard sent to businesses in the area offers restaurant pads with new construction at O'Johnnie's current address. A call to 5CRE confirmed that the organization will be putting a proposal in front of Clark’s Planning Board shortly.
While plans are still being made for the business and property, Bertekap is looking forward to enjoying his retirement and is starting earlier so he can enjoy it longer than his dad did. “Businesses have always been in my family. My father worked until he was 90 and then had only three months before he passed.” Bertekap hopes to enjoy a longer retirement as he sets out on his new path at the ripe young age of 78.