The doors close today for the last time at what’s the oldest continually operating business on the Ruston Way waterfront, Johnny’s Ocean Fish Co.
Pacific Seafood Group, the Portland-based seafood giant that bought the Johnny’s operation two years ago, is pulling the plug on the Old Town fish market after 74 years in business.
The Old Town store manager, Debbie Goss, said the three-member staff is being transferred to Johnny’s Dock Street store.
Johnny’s manager Debbie Goss and employee Joey Fote
The business opened in 1933 as Ocean Fish Co. In 1975, Johnny’s owners bought the business and added their name to the Ocean Fish moniker.
Goss said the seafood store has dozens of regular customers, some of whom have been patrons since the market opened.
“You should hear their stories,” she said. “They talk about when clams were five cents a pound and when salmon sold for 10 cents each.”
When Old Town was bordered by sawmills, shipyards and flour mills, fishing boats would pull up to the overwater market’s back door to unload their goods, she said.
Goss’ own daughter, Shannon, met her husband when they both worked at the seafood market.
The workers at the Johnny’s branch learned of its imminent closure about two weeks ago and posted a public notice Sunday.
In addition to regulars who bought seafood for dinner, the small white clapboard store adjacent to the Old Town Dock was popular with Ruston Way walkers and joggers.
“They’d buy chowder in the wintertime and cold watermelon in the summer,” said Goss.