Gasoline Alley opened in the summer of 1995 by husband and wife Al Kerkian and Susan Johnson. Al grew up in Newburyport, Massachusetts but relocated to the Bath area where he attended high school. He began working for Swiss Colony after a brief stint in the NFL and gained a passion for all things cheese and wine. In 1971, he rented a small house in Bath and opened his first cheese shop called “Wineberry”. He then was approached by the owners of Quaker Square to be an original tenant. There he incorporated sandwiches and wine into the cheese selection and called the new location “Wineberry Deli”.
Al’s brother Glen met Susan, who grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, while studying at Ohio University and offered her a job at the deli. After taking the job, Susan encountered Al for the first time and mistook him for the delivery man. The two married in 1981.
Ever the entrepreneur, Al wanted to further expand his business so he and Susan bought a storefront on Main Street in Akron where they reopened Wineberry Deli to include a sit-down restaurant. A few years later, these ventures morphed into Sarah’s (named after daughter, Sarah) a highly successful restaurant and nightclub in downtown Akron. Susan and Al created Sarah’s in the face of much naysaying from people who told them they’d never get customers to come downtown at night. They subsequently opened Satchmo’s downtown. And finally, Al and Susan launched Gasoline Alley and eventually Corkscrew Johnny’s in Richfield.
They bought the building, originally a Sir Louis Marathon where Susan used to fill up her tank as a teen, and turned it into Susan’s Deli, which started as carry-out and later offered sit-down. The two leased the building to other establishments for a few years and ultimately transformed it into Gasoline Alley.
Unfortunately, Al passed away in May of 2015 after complications following shoulder surgery. Susan continues to successfully operate the business with the support of daughter, Arami.