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Meet Paco Rodriguez (President & Co-Founder) and Tina Rodriguez (CFO, General Counsel, and Co-Founder) of SAGE Dining Services, Inc. Paco & Tina received the 2022 Silver Plate Award in the Business & Industry / Foodservice Management category, and were nominated by Wayne Farms.


Interview: What Drives the Nation's Top Foodservice Operators?

We asked the 2022 Silver Plate Class to share some perspectives and words of wisdom with the industry. 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.

 

How did you get your start in the foodservice industry?

For Paco, a brief stint at a gourmet ice cream company. For Tina, a consulting assignment for a regional contract food service provider.


What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?

For Paco, watching people have rewarding careers at SAGE. For Tina, seeing the transformative impact that our vibrant dining program has in building inclusiveness and strong social ties in client communities.


Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.

For Paco, helping lead the successful reinvention of school dining services in the COVID era. For Tina, helping shift the prevailing service model in independent school dining away from retail and fast food toward freshly prepared food served in a community-inclusive setting.


How have you kept yourself and your team motivated this past year?

We’ve tied the entire organization together using Zoom, meeting by district, by region, by function, by type of business. We’ve spoken directly to team members by video as well. We personally met with every client management team to make sure our response was aligned with the school’s preferences. In a time of uncertainty, we significantly increased personal outreach and communication. It worked!


What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?

Stay focused on your guests and your employees. It’s all about them. This is a hands-on business. Make sure you spend your time on the things that matter most: the people.


What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?

We’re both honored and humbled to be recognized by our industry. We survived and thrived as an independent, family-owned company during decades that saw tremendous consolidation. While this is an individual award, it really brings recognition to SAGE, our wonderful company with a 32-year record of creating exceptional dining experiences for a growing portfolio of client schools and colleges.


What is your favorite meal?

For Paco: pizza. For Tina: roast lamb.


 

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