Johnnie’s to close Saturday for former owner’s memorial service

Johnnie’s Fresh Meat Market in the Capitol Market will be closed Saturday, for the memorial service of former owner John Willey.

“He definitely wouldn’t want us to be closed longer than a day,” Krisene Stanley, Willey’s granddaughter and the market’s manager, said Wednesday afternoon. “Probably not even a day. That’s just how hard of a worker he was.”

Willey died Wednesday morning after several days in the hospital, of congestive heart failure. He would have been 83 on Sunday, and Stanley said her grandfather still came in every Monday when he was feeling well enough.

Stanley’s mother Lisa Surface owns Johnnies now. She said Johnnies is still a family tradition. Her sister also works at the market.

Stanley’s mother, Lisa Surface, bought Johnnie’s in 1999 from her brother, John Craddock, who bought it in 1993 from Willey, their stepfather.

Willey bought Johnnie’s in 1972 from the original owner, John Allessio. Willey worked as a butcher at Johnnie’s before he took over as owner.

Johnnie’s stayed on Washington Street at the foot of the 35th Street Bridge on Charleston’s East End for a quarter-century before moving to Iowa Street in 1974. Craddock moved Johnnie’s to the Capitol Market in 1997.

Stanley said they are eager to get back to business. “It’s been so busy [today at the market],” she said. “I’m glad. It’s been taking my mind off things.”

Johnnie’s will have normal business hours Friday and Sunday. Stanley said Mother’s Day is a big holiday for the entire market. A lot of fathers come in and buy steaks to cook out and impress their wives, she said.

Reach Caitlin Cook at or 304-348-5113.

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