Connecting Families Around the Dinner Table
By Tami Lewis
Posted: December 5, 2018
A Trip to Johnston’s Meat Market, Monticello Florida is a trip back in time
When Luke Bryan wrote the hit song, “Good Directions,” he could have been talking about Jefferson County, Florida. Graciously greeting guests in Monticello since 1926, Johnston’s Meat Market has been connecting families around the dinner table for nearly a hundred years.
Before the days of household refrigeration, Felix and Alice Johnston operated a successful grocery store and meat locker service in the present-day location on W. Washington Street. By the 1950’s the torch was passed to Felix’s daughter, Felice and her husband, “Cap” Shuman.
Johnston’s tradition of outstanding service and country-cured smoked meats was carried on by Hal Bennett and his wife Becky Shuman Bennett. While “Miss Bell” from Luke Bryan’s song) may not greet you with some of her sweet tea, the Old-Fashioned Country Store sign reads, “Enter as strangers, leave as friends,” and it’s true.
I heard about Johnston’s owners, Hal and Becky Bennett, before moving to Monticello in 2016. Once settled, my first visit was to purchase some of their famous smoked sausages. Johnston’s know its way around a hog and the mild breakfast sausage was a crowd-pleaser. My family has been hooked ever since.
As in most rural communities, where time stands still and traditions live on, you find that there are no strangers. And it turned out my husband’s side of the family has a number of connections to the Bennett and Shuman families. In keeping with the friendly atmosphere, Hal expanded the country store with a wrap around front porch complete with rocking chairs for your next visit. Hal and Becky also added a full meat counter and processing facility.
Famous throughout the south for their fresh, custom-cut meats, Johnston’s added their Great Southern BBQ Fundraisers. ‘Tis the season and I have purchased several slow cooked, mouth-watering Boston Butts for pulled pork. In addition to this country cooking, you can purchase expertly cured Picnic Hams and “fall-off-the-bone delicious,” ribs all year round.
With the addition of their Mobile Kitchen Trailer, Johnston’s will accommodate all of your catering needs, large or small. They are available for Emergency Food Response and recently took care of over 25,000 people following the devastation of Hurricane Michael.
They provide beef that is grown right here in Jefferson County naturally, grass-fed and finished. During Hunting Season, drop off your trophy for processing. While you’re there pick up some of their signature spices, syrups, and BBQ sauces.
Still serving visitors, sportsmen and local folks since 1926, this landmark is hard to miss just west of the Courthouse roundabout on Hwy. 90, 1480 W. Washington St., Monticello, Fl. Take the drive to Monticello or check them out at johnstonsmeatmarket.com and let them come to you.
Tami Lester, along with her husband, own Twelve Oaks Farm in Monticello, Florida where she works with Equine Assisted Learning and Life Coaching. As a facilitator, Tami conducts workshops throughout the year empowering individuals to live more joyous lives. Working with the American Mustang became a passion and Tami created modified training techniques specifically for wild horses. She wrote and published, “Overcoming the Fear Factor: The Guide for Training Wild Horses.” Her website is Twelve Oaks Farm.