One of the most popular meat markets is closing its doors later this month.

Petty’s Meat Market at 6115 N. Wickham Road will close by mid-January, owner Leigh Pettigrew said.

The Pettigrew family sold their stores because they wanted to spend more quality time with friends and family.

Leigh Pettigrew has operated the Suntree store for 24 years, while her brother Jay has managed the Babcock Street store in Melbourne for 44 years. Both stores were sold to Southeast Petro Distributors Inc. Only the Babcock Street store will remain open with the new owners.

"It’s been 24 wonderful years," Leigh Pettigrew said. "I have fondest memories of this place. We have amazing customers. I thank them all and I will miss them."

Of the 20 store employees, Pettigrew said some will retire and some will relocate to the Babcock Street store. "It’s been heartbreaking," she said. "We’ve had such an outpouring of phone calls, people stopping by the store and emails."

Bruce Kwitny of Suntree said he will miss the store.

"I’ve been coming here for 20 years and I don’t know where I’m going to go for my dinners," he said. "I’ve been coming here at least two days a week because they cook all my prepared dishes."

Customer Pat Smith, who commutes from Cocoa Beach to shop in the Suntree store, said she feels terrible about the closing.

"I drive all the way here because I love the personalization of the employees and the quality of the food," she said.

Pettigrew said the best part of the store is its employees.

"We have really special employees," she said. "They are knowledgeable and are sincerely caring and compassionate with our customers."