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Junior's Fish Market Closing, May Become Trulieve Dispensary

Local Landmark Closing After 21 Years

After over two decades serving the Lake Wales community, Montella's Fish Market is closing its doors for good. Owners Lisa and Mike "Junior" Montella have decided that they will retire after running successful fish markets in Florida for 37 years.

News file photo courtesy Google

Junior's Fish Market has been a familiar splash of blue for motorists on SR 60 east in Lake Wales for two decades. The popular shop will be closing as the owner retires.

The property at 1341 SR 60 East may be in for a big change.

"The buyer is going to lease it," Montella stated. "He's an investor."

Lake Wales News sources indicate that the purchaser of the property scouts, purchases and leases locations for Trulieve, a Medical marijuana dispensary chain. Trulieve already operates five dispensaries in Polk County, including a location in Bartow and two in Winter Haven.

Lake Wales is already home to one of the largest marijuana grow houses in the state. Grow Healthy occupies an enormous facility near Lake Wales Airport that employees more than 150, producing carefully-controlled doses of pharmaceutical-grade products.

News file photo

Junior's owner Mike Montella is well known to his many customers who stop by for fresh-cooked lunches or seafood to go.

Opportunity came at a good moment for Montella's. "I'm looking to retire and an offer came along for the property that I couldn't refuse," Montella explained when asked about his reason for selling. "It's time to spend more time with my grandchildren, go fishing myself, and even get into drag racing - all the things an entrepreneur like myself couldn't find much time for."

Montella opened his Lake Wales location in 2003 after operating a fish market in Pompano Beach for 16 years prior. His seafood market quickly became a staple in the neighborhood, known for its fresh catches, friendly service, and Montella's warm personality.

While Montella is enthusiastic about his retirement plans, longtime customers are understandably saddened to see the local institution shutting down.

"They're happy I'm retiring but disappointed that it's going," Montella said about the customer reactions so far. For decades, Junior's has been more than just a place to buy seafood - it's been a community hub and a spot to catch up with Montella himself.

While the future of the prime real estate location remains uncertain, one thing is clear - Junior's Fish Market has been an integral part of the Lake Wales community for the past 21 years. The closing marks the end of an era, but Montella's impact and the memories made at his iconic seafood shop will be lasting.


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