Mike Haney asked for a job for his 14th birthday. His mom, eager to please, dropped him off at a butcher shop the next day at 6 a.m. Since then he’s wanted to make a career out of butchery but first worked his way through D.C. kitchens, including Birch & Barley and The Salt Line.
Then he met the owner of Maryland’s Potomac Grocer, Tom Spencer, on his neighborhood listserv.
“He posted for an electrician and I gave him my electrician’s name and we started talking for a couple of months,” Haney says. Eventually the pair inked a deal making Haney the full-time chef and butcher at the shop inside Potomac Village that’s been open for four years. “I’ve been working towards an opportunity like this and the place is three miles from my house.”
Haney plans to introduce a whole animal butchery program featuring products from local farms. He’ll also use Amish produce and offer more East Coast seafood.
“One of the big things that I want to do is custom orders,” Haney says. “From my past experience in lots of different restaurants, there’s not a lot I don’t know how to do.”
If you need a certain cut of meat or a rare fish, he’ll find it for you. He’ll even cook it for you if you prefer. “Some regular customers come in once a week and we cook their steak dinner to take home,” he says.
The bread and butter of the market is prepared food and Haney is pushing to make meals restaurant quality. They also do big holiday catering business for Thanksgiving, Jewish holidays, New Year’s, and the Super Bowl.
The chef had previously scouted markets in D.C. proper for similar opportunities but couldn’t find the right fit. “I was waiting for the right opportunity. Some of the shops in D.C. were a bit uppity,” he says. One wanted to see credentials from the Culinary Institute of America.
Haney is happy to serve the Potomac community. “There are some people who are used to the food you can get in the city and want that out there,” Haney says. “I want to tap into that market.”
Meet Haney on Dec. 13 at Mess Hall, where he’ll lead an interactive butchering demonstration from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The “Some Disassembly Required” event includes barbecue and beer and tickets range from $55 to $250 depending on what type of meat you’d like to bring home to cook.
Potomac Grocer, 10107 River Road, Potomac, MD; (301) 299-4200; potomacgrocer.com