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San Clemente Journal

Gus’ Fresh Jerky Bringing the Country to the City

Jun 18, 2021 01:00PM ● By Nina Welch

Namesake of the store, Gus, poses with his daughter, Nancy, who recently opened up the Avenida Del Mar location.

By Nina welch

While strolling on Ave. Del Mar with all of the newly formed sidewalk cafes and striped umbrellas, one must stop between Poké Roll and Shoes on Del Mar and follow the brick walkway to Gus’ Fresh Jerky. The cowboy neon signs will tell you that a country store has hit the city streets. 
Owner, Nancy Niepagan, opened this unique specialty food shop on February 12. Nancy’s dad, Gus, the namesake of the store, started his famous jerky business in 1996 in Olancha, California. He also has stores in Needles, Golden Valley, Arizona, and Searchlight, Nevada.
Armed with her dad’s entrepreneurial know-how, after earning two AA degrees at Mira Costa College, one in Entrepreneurship and one in Marketing, Nancy was ready to carry on her family’s jerky tradition. 
When Gus finally visited his daughter’s store, he was pleased with the location, stating, “You’re basically bringing the country to the city.” 
The setting is definitely one out of a western movie with classic country music playing in the background. And Nancy’s star employee and official greeter, Pampita, a friendly, cute Chihuahua, is there to welcome patrons. 
Along with a variety of USDA factory-approved jerky, customers will find honey from Nancy’s mom’s farm, California-grown, hand-stuffed olives, Argentine Steak Sauce that can also be used for pasta and chicken, dried fruit, and various nuts and brittle. For a summer day, cowboy beach hats are also for sale. When asked about the jerky, Gus says, “Younger people like the old-school dryer type, called Cowboy, because they have good teeth. We also have softer jerky made from brisket.” According to Gus, the recipes for the three flavors, Cowboy, Sweet and Spicy, and Teriyaki, came from what his truck driver customers told him they wanted.
Nancy’s dream is to continue her family’s legacy by making Gus’ Jerkey a household name. Her parents emigrated from Argentina in 1980 and started life from the bottom. Gus was 20 and her mom, Nancy (her namesake) was 19. 
Nancy’s husband, Sheldon Adam, is in the Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton. He has been very supportive of his wife, and even made rustic shelves that look like they belong in an old-time general store for the displays. 
Nancy is the youngest of four sisters: Lucia, a Family Nurse Practitioner studying for her Nursing Doctorate, Angie, a Spanish teacher, and Nathalie, who is pursuing her Master’s Degree in 
When talking about his daughters, Gus says, “Big blessings we have.”
Store Hours: Monday-Thursday., 11am.-6:30pm
Friday - Sunday, 10:30am.-7:30pm