We asked the Silver Plate Class of 2013 a few questions to get an inside look at what makes them the operator all-stars they are today. Find out what they had to say about passion for foodservice, career accomplishments and what it means to be part of a legendary group of operators.
John Metz, CEO, Executive Chef and Co-Founder, Sterling Hospitality
What do you enjoy most about your job?
As it was when we started the company, it remains the same today; I really enjoy creating opportunities for our employees. We set out to give every person who showed passion, know-how, or interest in developing in our business, the chance to learn, grow and create opportunities for themselves and their families. I am most proud of the tenure in our teams at all levels.
Tell us about your biggest accomplishment.
I don't know if I have accomplished it yet, but I have a couple things that I think help me and our company grow and stay focused on the bigger picture. First was some recognition I received from Zagat: I was named in the Top 10 Hosts in Atlanta. This was such great recognition, because we are and have always been so focused on world-class hospitality in every aspect of our business. We founded our company on that principle. Our guests and the city recognized it, and still to this day, it is our #1 value that guides our company and all of our stakeholders. The second was the year that we crossed the million dollar mark in payroll. It was an overwhelming thought to me that I was responsible for all of these people and they trusted me and my partners to do the right things each and every day to make sure we could continue to pay and support their families. We have since surpassed that number several times over, and it is one of the biggest reasons I jump out of bed every morning.
What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?
First, it is absolutely crucial that they understand what this business is all about and the commitment and time it requires day in and day out. I would recommend they spend time working in the industry, at least part time, so they can determine if they really love it. Finally, I would suggest that they pick the segment and job function they are enthusiastic about within this very diverse industry, so they can go to work energized to make an impact on their guests and employees daily.
What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?
It is an incredible honor and very humbling to be mentioned in the same breath as so many of the mentors and leaders I have watched and learned from in my career. It is also great recognition for our company and all of the people who have worked hard to make a positive impact. Something like this would not be possible without my family, my partners, our leadership team and our employees who focus on doing the right things all the time, as they set new standards to improve all aspects of our business. The other thing that is very special to me is the fact that my father received this great recognition during his career. It is exciting to be able to share that honor with him.