A Heartfelt Farewell to Ahern’s Auto
It was 1996 when Jim Ahern opened the doors to Ahern’s Auto Care in South Pasadena and on Friday, January 8, 2021, Janey Ahern-Brubaker locked them for the last time.
“It breaks my heart. I’ve had customers get really upset, but I just wanted to leave on a good note,” Ahern-Brubaker said. “It was this or renew a three-year lease and I just don’t have the heart to.”
Frequently decked out in Harley-Davidson gear, Ahern-Brubaker took on the full load of the business, located at 6763 Gulfport Blvd S., when her husband passed away from lung disease in 2017.
“He was certainly a fixture here,” Ahern-Brubaker said. “Everyone that comes in here has a good memory of Jim; he’d give people rides home, he’d stop to help anyone on the side of the road – it didn’t matter.”
The pair met in 2005, and Ahern-Brubaker barely accepted the proposition of a first date because of Ahern’s cigarette habit and lack of a boat.
In 2006, they were married.
She never imagined she’d have to run their automotive business alone.
Ahern-Brubaker had not worked at the shop until Jim’s passing, but with the help of Head Technician Dennis Kerr and Service Manager Sherman May, the show went on.
When May passed away in 2018, it left just Ahern-Brubaker and Kerr to run the “always busy” shop alone.
“This has just been here a long time,” Kerr said. “Jim and I had a good relationship – I picked on him and he picked on me.”
Kerr, who’s worked with the auto shop for the past 22 years, planned to retire in February of this year, and with the ending of the lease, came a final decision.
“I can’t afford to not have Dennis,” Ahern-Brubaker said. “He wanted to retire, I wanted to retire, and I don’t own the land or the building, just the business.”
It is the end of a 25-year era of car repairs and community connections.
According to Brubaker-Ahern, the owner of 1 Stop Auto & Service signed a lease on the property, though there’s no word yet on an opening date for the new shop.
“I gave away the last oil change on Friday for free,” Brubaker-Ahern said. “It’s sad, but we’re leaving on a good note.”
Aqua Sol Adventures Cruises into Boca Ciega
In December of 2020, former Gulfport Police Department detective Scott Hutsko traded his tactical boots for flip flops and became “Captain Scott” of the charter boat BlueBare.
Anchored at the City of Gulfport Municipal Marina at 4630 29th Ave. S, the boat takes up to six people on private tours around the area.
Perhaps opening three months before the coronavirus struck the U.S. wasn’t great timing for his charter trip venture, Aqua Sol Adventures, to set sail, but that didn’t stop the former detective.
“My wife looked at me at one point and said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’” Hutsko said. “Of course I did.”
Even with the shutdowns, Hutsko drove his charter out to sea over 100 times in the past year.
“We do snorkeling trips, paddle boarding, we check out the islands out there, see manatees,” Hutsko said. “I let people tell me what they want to do – I just drive the boat.”
It wasn’t always boatside fun.
“This was a brainstorm of mine from about seven to eight years ago,” Hutsko said. “Then my dad got sick with cancer and I realized I needed to be with my family.”
With the added complication of a leg injury, Hutsko decided to leave the police force, four years before he was set to retire.
“I loved what I did, but I didn’t feel like it was fair to me or them to stay,” Hutsko said.
Hutsko has fond memories of his six years with the department.
“The people of Gulfport are so amazing and I really saw this when I worked on the force,” Hutsko said. “I wanted to stay in this area for that very reason, and the people of Gulfport are still being good to me.”
Find more at aquasoladventures.com.
Eating It Up: Salty’s Sandwich Shop
Shore Boulevard South got a little saltier this Wednesday, January 13, with the opening of Salty’s Sandwich Bar.
Similar to it’s counterpart, Salty’s Gulfport Bar, the orange and blue splashed building is right in the middle of downtown, at 3121 Beach Blvd. S.
The two Gulfport establishments are run by the same owner, JP Brewer.
However, the sandwich bar is less a traditional drinkery and more of a fast-paced restaurant with a couple of sipping options.
“We have a good selection of wines and craft beers, along with a couple of canned cocktails, which are liquor-based drinks,” Salty’s Sandwich Bar’s Facebook announced.
The shop’s Facebook already has over 2,000 followers.
Quirky options such as fried bologna and Bahn Mi Pork Belly sandwich might be the secret to Salty’s quick success.
“Gulfport’s newest restaurant serving up awesome, fresh deli and specialty sandwiches, along with many other house made items by Chef Olive,” their Facebook reads.
For hours, menus and more, check out fb.com/saltyssandwichbar.