Meat company owner opens stores and plans restaurant
Nick Washington started working for Miller Meats in 1990 as a way to make some extra money. Now, 27 years later, he not only owns the business but also has started a second company, Uncle Nick’s Premium Meats.
Washington bought the meat processing company in 2015 from its founder, Darrell Miller, who was retiring. “I saw an opportunity,” Washington says. “I had put too much skin in the game. I took a chance, and it worked out pretty good.”
Based in Newport News, Miller Meats provides beef and pork to federal, state, county and local institutions as well as the military. The company’s wholesale customers include Sysco, a major food distributor. It’s not unusual for Miller Meats to process a “10,000-pound order,” Washington says.
The company’s plant operates in a federal HUBZone-certified location that is also in a state-designated enterprise zone. These programs encourage economic development in historically underutilized business areas. “That helps out with taxes,” Washington says, noting Miller Meats received a façade upgrade grant from the city of Newport News that provides a 75 percent rebate. “The city is very friendly to small businesses.”
Washington started Uncle Nick’s Premium Meats last year to serve retail customers. It sells chicken and seafood in addition to the beef and pork products provided by Miller Meats. Uncle Nick’s also carries a selection of seasonings, rubs, sauces, marinades and grilling accessories.
“I wanted the community and people in the area to have access to quality products at a fair price,” he says.
Washington has a total of 23 employees working at the two businesses. Uncle Nick’s now has three locations in Newport News and one in Yorktown.
“People were asking us to branch out to Yorktown,” Washington says, adding that he is considering more expansion, either through distribution or franchising. He also is contemplating offering selected products online.
Washington also plans to open a restaurant named Papa Bluey’s Southern Kitchen in Newport News. It will focus on Southern comfort food.
Washington hopes to do all of this without sacrificing his emphasis on customer service. “We offer price, quality and customer service,” he says. “You have to have all three.”