What drives the nation’s top foodservice operators? To celebrate IFMA's 65th annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration, we asked the 2019 Silver Plate Class to share what makes them the operator all-stars they are today. Find out what they have to say about their passion for foodservice, career accomplishments and what it means to be part of a legendary group of operators.
Meet John Arena & Sam Facchini, Co-Founders/Co-Owners, Metro Pizza. John & Sam received the 2019 Silver Plate Award in the Independent Restaurant/Multi-Concept category, nominated by Ecolab.
What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?
John: I most enjoy providing a restorative experience for the multi-generations of restaurant guests.
Sam: After being in the business for over 50 years, it’s still having the opportunity on a daily basis to make a positive difference in someone’s life, through the nourishment of their body, soul and character.
Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.
John: Along with Sam, we created the first ever University level course for aspiring pizza entrepreneurs, earning them 3 credits.
Sam: There are really two.
1) Witnessing the professional growth that so many of our hundreds of employees have achieved throughout the years.
2) Being responsible for the development of over 140,000 future industry leaders enrolled in the ProStart high school programs across the country during my tenure as NRAEF Chairman in 2018.
How is your segment making a difference for the foodservice industry?
John: Pizza is one of the world’s most accessible and adaptable foods. Its popularity transcends borders and cultural differences. As a communal food it brings people together in a way that nourishes both body and spirit.
Sam: Independent restaurants are the backbone of our industry, often providing the first opportunity for immigrants and working class families to reach higher to achieve the American Dream. There isn’t a dot on the map that doesn’t have at least one independent restaurant located in it, serving as a gathering place for members of each community to celebrate milestones, exchange ideas, obtain nourishment, witness history, start or end each day, and sometimes even mourn.
What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?
John: Don’t be a dabbler. Immerse yourself fully. Find joy in your work every day.
Sam: Be flexible in your thinking, always strive to learn more about your craft, be a good listener, always be respectful of your team members and their contribution, be committed to working long hours . . . and if possible have a great business partner like I do, 2019 Silver Plate co-recipient John Arena.
What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?
John: The IFMA award represents recognition from our peers and colleagues who truly understand the unique challenges and rewards of our industry beyond a balance sheet.
Sam: While none of us ever enter this career with the intent of one day receiving accolades for their efforts, being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient is an honor of indescribable magnitude for me . . . for two reasons. The first is because it was decided upon by my peers in the industry – people that I have always looked up to, learned from, and did my best to emulate. The second is because I get to share it as co-recipient with my business partner for 50 years, and my brother for life, John Arena.