By Ryan Velez
Many entrepreneurs these days don’t start their careers on this path. There are many reasons that this takes place. Sometimes, it’s because the opportunity doesn’t present itself at first. Sometimes, one needs to hone the skills to be successful in this venture elsewhere. Many times, it’s a matter of practicality, with the person not having the funds to embark on this venture without a day job to pay for them. A great example of someone who fits multiple categories here is multi-unit entrepreneur, Nick Washington, who plans to start Papa Bluey’s Southern Kitchen in Newport News, Virginia, this December.
Washington initially started at Miller Meats in 1990 as a butcher, learning the ins and outs of the business in various roles the past 27 years. Miller Meats is a meat processing plant that sells steaks, pork chops, and seafood to wholesale distributors The restaurant is not the first investment for Washington, more a culmination of his hard work. In 2015, he opened the Uncle Nick’s Premium Meats retail store, and invested $900,000 to buy Miller Meats. This restaurant will allow Washington the chance to showcase the meat Miller Meats and Uncle Nick’s Premium Meats have to offer.
Named for his father, Papa Bluey’s will offer Southern-style comfort food. Expect dishes like baked macaroni, mustard greens, smothered pork chops, oxtails, meatloaf, beef tips, pork barbecue ribs, catfish, Kool-Aid, and other items. Washington claims that not only will Papa Bluey’s be offering dishes that aren’t available in the nearby area, but the fact that Miller Meats is its supplier will also allow for lower prices. “What will set us apart will be superior customer service and great tasting food at reasonable prices.”
Despite his humble beginnings, Washington has big plans for his businesses, hoping to do $7 million in sales in the next year from the wholesale business, retail stores, and the restaurant. On top of spending $80,000 of his own savings to buy Miller Meats, he also has two, 12-year SBA loans totaling approximately $820,000 to buy the building, equipment, and business for Miller Meats. His plan is to use this revenue to pay off the loans over a seven-year-period.
One major plus that Miller Meats has is that it is a subcontractor for food processing giant Sysco as that company fulfills a U.S. Navy contract. “The fact that we’re providing these products to both the government and private sector is huge for us,” says Samuel Hayes, owner of Stratageum, a Richmond, Virginia, business development firm that works with Miller Meats. Hayes is Washington’s brother-in-law, one of several family members who does work for the company or is employed by it.