No Food In Its Future
Johnnie's To Be Renovated For Retail Space
By Samar Fay Courier Editor
Published: Thursday, January 19th, 2012
People who were hoping that the Johnnie Cafe on Front Street would reopen with coffee, pie and huge hot breakfasts are going to be disappointed. The new owner, Jim “Bull” Durham, has figured the cost of running Johnnie’s as a restaurant again and it’s just too expensive. Too many things need to be fixed.
Durham, also the owner of the Stockman’s Bar and Valley Auto Sales on Front Street, will renovate the building and rent it to someone as retail space. The work includes fixing heaters and replacing flooring and a sump pump. He is selling the restaurant equipment to other local establishments.
Recognizing that Johnnie’s is on historic Front Street, Durham said his goal is to make it better than when he bought it.
It’s hard to tell when Johnnie’s was established. Stories variously say 1914, or in the 1930s when the Kotaki family came from Scobey to run a cafe. The family business continued at least into the mid-’60s. Everett and Dolores West bought it in 1979 and Paul Nass bought it in 1987. In 1996 he sold it to the Berrisfords. Barb Marsh and Joe Younkin bought Johnnie’s in August 2002, and followed that up with buying Sam’s Supper Club two years later. The fried eggs, hamburgers and steak dinners kept coming until March 2009, when Johnnie’s served the last meal and closed for good. Marsh said the economy was one reason but the biggest reason was she was spread too thin.
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