PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A local family who has owned several McDonalds in Bay County for six decades has sold their locations.

Costa Enterprises McDonald’s acquired seven McDonald’s throughout Bay County, Freeport, and Madison, Florida from Johnstone Foods McDonald’s.

For the past 60 years, the Johnstone family has owned and operated multiple McDonald’s throughout the region, including building Bay County’s first McDonald’s location on Harrison Avenue in 1962.

“McDonald’s has been our family business since I was 13 years old,” said Tim Johnstone. “It’s easy to forget that McDonald’s is made of small family operators. I used to leave Bay High after school and go peel potatoes for french fries at the Harrison Avenue location.”

As Tim and Tracy Johnstone approached retirement, they knew they didn’t want to sell their restaurants to any ordinary franchisee.

“We wanted to find someone who would honor and respect the work we’ve done and continue the legacy that we’ve created within the McDonald’s brand,” said Tracy Johnstone.

The Costa family was an obvious choice as they already own and operate several McDonald’s in Bay County and their company “is similarly centered around the core value of family,” they wrote in a news release. Founded by David Costa Sr., Costa Enterprises McDonald’s has four other family operators including Helen Costa, David Costa Jr., Amy Costa Killebrew, and Steven Killebrew who oversee their current 21 locations across Northwest Florida.

“We are honored to be able to continue the Johnstone family tradition,” David Costa Sr. assured. “We want all of the staff to know we’re here to support them as we continue to build on all that the Johnstones have done.”

With the seven new locations, Costa Enterprises will own and operate 28 restaurant locations across Northwest Florida including those in Bluewater Bay, Niceville, all Navarre locations, Mossy Head, all Crestview locations, Madison, Marianna I-10, Marianna Lafayette, Cottondale, Bonifay, Chipley, DeFuniak Springs, Freeport, Lynn Haven, Blountstown, Port St. Joe, and all Panama City and Panama City Beach locations.

“With the holidays approaching, we want to make this a seamless transition for all restaurants, staff members, and managers,” David Costa Sr. expressed. “As a company, we strive to take care of our own and we welcome the 280 new team members to Costa Enterprises McDonald’s.”

As the Johnstone’s retire, Tracy said she feels nothing but gratitude.

“Bay County gave us a home and an incredible opportunity to build our life here,” Tracy Johnstone said. “We have been a first job or career for thousands of locals over the years and we have shared some of your most special life moments. It has been the pleasure of a lifetime.”