Maggie's Meats and Groceries closed by fire

By:Gail D. Livingston, Editor, Union County Times May 22, 2003

"Maggie's Meats and Groceries," opened by Brett and Larae Parrish in February will be closed for the next several weeks due to a fire inside the store on May 8.
The Lake Butler couple bought the former Clark's Meats and Grocery the first of January and reopened the store under the new name "Maggie's Meats and Groceries," (named for the couple's daughter). However, a fire that started in the attic at the store near the electrical panel almost put an end to the couple's dream of ownership of a small grocery.

The fire was spotted by Steve Thornton at around 3 a.m. on May 8. Thornton spotted smoke coming from the vent in the attic of the store and called 911. Thornton was unsure at that time if the building was actually on fire or not, only noting that smoke was billowing from the attic vent to the north end of the building.

The Lake Butler Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched and was the first on the scene. Fire Chief Mike Banks noted that firefighters were able to enter the building through the front door and quickly extinguish the blaze, which had scorched a small area of the ceiling near the electrical panel box. Although the area of the ceiling was the only part of the building to actually catch fire, the smoke in the building caused the Parrishes to lose all their meats and dairy items and other grocery items that were not either canned.

Union County Fire Department's station five and six and Union County Emergency Medical Services also responded to the call. The fire was contained in a "mop-up" mode until the fire marshall could arrive and inspect the scene. The actual cause of the blaze was not exactly known, but the fire was started in an electrical box located over the meat counter on the north side of the building, which eventually burned through the ceiling.

Maggie's Meats and Groceries, located on SR231 south of Lake Butler, will continue to offer a wide variety of grocery items, luncheon items, fresh-cut meats and a small selection of fresh vegetables once the store is reopened. The store also has gasoline available for customer convenience.

"We plan to reopen within three to four weeks," said Brett Parrish. "At least by the end of June.

Parrish noted that the store will be re-arranged a little during the closing, with plans to place a new cooler and meat-cutting room to the rear of the store.

"The old meat room is where we plan to place cooked meats," said Brett. "We will also be getting new meat and dairy cases in the store, along with the store being totally re-painted inside and new flooring installed. The store will also have new electrical wiring."

Brett also noted that plans are to place a produce island in the front of the store.

"Everything will be re-arranged and made better when we re-open," said Brett.

The Parrishes recently took over Thomas Grocery in Providence, which will be stocked very similar to Maggie's and was renamed "Hunter's Meats and Groceries" (for their son Hunter).

Employees at Maggie's include Marie Forsyth and Susan Thomas, who were employees of the store for the Clark family. The Parrishes added Joey Lee as the meat cutter and Diane Roberts as manager at Hunter's. Lee is now stationed at Hunter's and will to travel between the two stores to do meat cutting, once Maggie's re-opens.

Hunter's is now open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays. Maggie's hours of operation will be the same when it reopens. Maggie's store may be reached by calling 386-496-4581 during regular business hours, with Hunter's being reached at 386-752-8185.

Brett is the son of Bobby and Regina Parrish of Lake Butler and a 1998 graduate of Union County High School. He is a lifetime resident of Lake Butler. Larae is the daughter of Larry and Peggy Clyatt of Benton, Ill. and is the granddaughter of Kenneth and Alethea Clyatt of Lake Butler. Larae graduated from Benton Consolidated High School in Benton, Ill. in 1991. She earned her bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Florida A&M University in 1998.

Brett and Larae have been married for six years, residing in Lake Butler with their two children, Maggie, three, and Hunter, 10 months. The couple are active members of First Christian Church of Lake Butler.