Passing on the Legacy at Johnny Ray’s Chelsea

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, August 23, 2017

By TONY NIVENS / Community Columnist

“When I set my goals for life I allowed 20 years for the restaurant business,” said Miranda Carter, former owner of Johnny Ray’s in Chelsea. “I felt I had served in as many ways as I could and I have hopes to one day serve more on a bigger level. I was part of the Kiwanis Club, the Lions Club, the CBA and Relay for Life. Casey Morris, Doug Snyder and I worked to create Chelsea’s own Relay. We were able to raise $75,000 for the charity that first year.”

She also served with or sponsored many other projects.

“It seemed like if there was a way to serve the community, I was there,” she said.

Johnny Ray’s Facebook proves it even back when she opened at 18.

“Miranda was young. I knew she would need some help,” said her mother Linda Riopel, “So I left my job in and helped for about a year.”

Riopel returned temporarily a few years later when Carter was hindered by an injury and has stayed ever since.

“Yes, Miranda was too young to have a liquor license when she opened. It just never was important,” answered Riopel.

“Yes,” Carter agreed, “I wanted to keep the family atmosphere we had. One of the things I am proud of was my platform of hiring school kids and giving them their start in the business. Johnny Ray’s gave me an opportunity when I was young, so I always wanted to pass that opportunity on.”

Her next opportunity?

“I was offered the chief of staff position for Senator Blackwell and started another business, Carter Strategies, a fund-raising company for senators.”

“Senators come to my office now,” she said, chuckling, “And, I only have to be in Montgomery two days a week.”

Like the restaurant business she is learning the world of politics by working hard for others.

“No, I have never met Mr. Donavan, since I sold my franchise back to the corporation and they handled the sale to him, but, I am sure he will do a good job for Chelsea.”

Carter was speaking of Jack Donovan, the new restaurant owner. Donavan is a citizen of Chelsea and has served the community several years through Donovan Builders.

“I love Chelsea,” said Donovan, “I am real busy right now, but I look forward to serving the community in this new way.”

Donovan can often be seen handling business meetings around a table at Johnny Ray’s and greeting customers.

“I think Mr. Donovan is a fine man,” Riopel said. “He will do a good job and a lot of good things for Chelsea. Customers assumed I would leave when Miranda left, but I am comfortable here. Besides, I love my customers. They are like family now.”

Riopel came to Chelsea to help her daughter; now she stays with her adopted Chelsea family.

“One day I hope to serve at the state level in politics,” said Carter. “I feel like it will give me a lot more ways I can serve the community.”