NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — When it started, he was just trying to serve the people at a different job some good food.

Michael Harvey, owner and self-titled Grand Master of Potatoes of One Spunky Spud, said he was toeing the line between employment and unemployment at a previous job when he started selling his loaded potatoes at work.

“I started hitting people up on lunch,” he said. “I knew when payday was; I knew who was getting their bonuses, so I knew where to go. So I started selling those potatoes to them.”

Eventually, the potato popularity got so large that he had to make a big decision: whether he would start his own business or not.

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After establishing as a legitimate business, Harvey first started selling the potatoes out of his apartment complex, which got to looking suspicious after a while, he said. Then a space inside the Rivergate Mall Food Court opened up, and he, his wife and sister moved in.

But he still struggled at first, because his move into the mall happened in March 2020—right when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

In an effort to drum up sales during the slow pandemic days, Michael’s sister recommended using social media—specifically TikTok. The viral dance app was where many Americans spent their free time during the early pandemic days, as people were quarantined in their homes and unable to travel.

Despite being skeptical and somewhat depressed that his business wasn’t doing as well as he’d originally hoped, he posted a video of himself creating one of the loaded potatoes, and it went viral—exploded, really, he told News 2.

One Spunky Spud is located in Rivergate Mall in Goodlettsville. (WKRN Photo)

“I posted one [video]; it up to like 96 million views,” he said. “That was just so crazy to me.”

Encouraged by the success of the video, he tried another video, which also got millions of views on the app. Each time he posted, he would get large numbers, Harvey said, making him think there was something to using social media to garner a following.

And a following he has: 1.1 million on TikTok, 23.4K on Instagram and nearly 18 million likes, and even his own theme song.

Harvey said the now-viral beat he sings to in each of his videos, known as “Dat Buttah,” just came to him one day while he was filming.

“I always hear songs in my head. I’ll make anything a song,” he said. “I was putting the butter on, and I was like, ‘Look at dat buttah!’ Then I started adding a little beatbox to it. I did that song, and kids come up to me all the time now talking about ‘Dat Buttah’.”

He even has merch referencing the song now, which friends can find online.

That initial viral video? A buffalo chicken potato.

“Buffalo chicken. I will never forget it,” he said. “I was like ‘What!’ People were asking, ‘What’s in the sauce? What’s in the sauce?’ And I can’t tell you what’s in the sauce, but I could make you one—come up to Rivergate Mall.”

One Spunky Spud owner Michael Harvey shows off his “Dat Buttah” merch (WKRN Photo)

Since that initial video, Harvey has gotten most of his business from those wanting to check out the potato place in the mall. And he’s still making videos nearly three years later. He’s even expanded the menu to include more toppings options, some from customer suggestions.

“I had one guy come up and say, ‘Let me get some chicken on there, and put me a little ranch on it,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I’m going to make that one!’” he said. “All of them have been selling like hot cakes, so I’m excited.”

He gets plenty of ideas to this day, particularly ones he thinks will be exciting and new but still sell well.

“We’re always looking for a little something extra here,” he said.

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One crowd favorite he didn’t expect to be as successful as it has been is the barbecue potato. Being in the south, Harvey said there is no shortage of places that sell a barbecue potato, so he thought people would have other places to buy them, but he’s got a steady clientele asking for his barbecue-loaded potato.

But if he’s making the meals for himself, he’s sticking with either the chicken bacon ranch, buffalo chicken, or the chicken Philly.

To find One Spunky Spud, head to the Rivergate Mall Food Court or find them on TikTok and Instagram @onespunkyspud.