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Spanky's Storefront Comes To Life

NHS students will soon have new food options for lunch and weekend meals that have their roots deeply planted in Nutley history.  Adam "Spanky" Jernick, a 2001 NHS graduate, is opening a restaurant across the street from the high school that will offer award-winning burgers, cheesesteaks, sandwiches, sides, and beverages. 


Jernick, whose nickname "Spanky" was coined in his childhood for his resemblance to The Little Rascals' Spanky McFarland, developed the idea for the restaurant after successfully operating his food truck, aptly entitled "Spanky's Gourmet Grub" throughout the North Jersey area. It's through his food truck business that Jernick garnered several food awards and developed a huge following. His food truck is a familiar option in many local festivals and town events, and continues to be a popular option for casual weddings and outdoor events. 


Jernick's plan is to run the food truck out of the store front. The restaurant is named Jernick’s Specialties, Home of Spanky’s Gourmet Grub Food Truck, located on 301 Franklin Ave, just a few steps south of the J. H. Walker Middle School.


According to Jernick, the food primarily offered at the restaurant will be similar to the food offered on the food truck: “The menu is a replica of the food truck, jazzed up to multiple burgers, multiple cheesesteaks, and sandwiches. We also have fresh cut fries, homemade dressings like bacon jam, pickles, mustards, dressings, relishes, and more for customers to buy. Anything you get on your sandwich you can buy.” 


Jernick has plans for patrons to challenge themselves in competitive eating: “We will be having a Raider Burger Challenge. The challenge will be that you have to eat one hamburger consisting of five patties, and a pound of fries in under 15 minutes. If you beat the challenge then your name will go up on the board, along with the time that you completed this in, and you will be rewarded with a t-shirt. After this challenge gets easy to beat, then the number of patties will be increased, starting with six, then seven, then eight, and so on,” Jernick said. 


Jernick's Specialties, Home of Spanky's Gourmet Grub Food Truck will be a sit down place that can fit about 20 people and will be open six days a week from 11 a.m. to around 6 p.m., depending on how many customers there are. Jernick said, “If the restaurant isn’t busy then I’ll close up early, if it’s crowded until 10 p.m. then I’ll stay open until 10pm. It all depends on the customers.”


Jernick is planning various student discounts for first-time orders, as well as lunch specials starting at $8.00.


After graduating high school, Jernick went off to play football on a full scholarship at James Madison University. He was involved in a car accident in his junior year season which sidelined him and ended his football career. At the time, creating food specialties was a hobby, but the extra time helped him develop his passion for creating unique meals.


As Jernick began to focus more on his cooking career, he made sure to keep involved in community service. He has maintained a special role in town affairs, and these activities are a culmination of the work he has done throughout the years. 


Jernick said, “I am the Past Exalted Ruler for the Nutley Elks Club, as I was involved with them since I was 21, so a better part of 20 years. I am the past Vice President for the Nutley Family Service Bureau and did stuff with them for nine years. I’ve also been a part of a Christmas fundraiser that my father started when I was 18. We go to a town in New York, where we deliver presents to each house by horse and sleigh. I’m now Santa Claus. Aside from this, I work as one of the assistants to Commissioner Petracco for the Nutley Public Safety Department.” 


After college, Jernick catered for the Nutley Elks Club for weddings, parties, and other events for 15 years before deciding to take his career a step further. In 2016 his food truck, Spanky’s Gourmet Grub, came to life. From there he won “Best Burger” titles the past three years and that’s when he decided to open up a storefront to serve the Nutley community on a more continuous basis. 


Jernick’s Specialties, Home of Spanky’s Gourmet Grub Food Truck should be open in late February, and Jernick is looking forward to sharing his love of good food with Nutley community. “Life’s too short to eat lousy food!” he said.