Metz Culinary Management, Inc. announced that company founder John C. Metz passed away peacefully on May 8, 2023, at the age of 83 surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his children John, Jeff, and Maureen, spouses, Susan, Sean and grandchildren Kaitlyn, Ashley and Jeffrey, and a wealth of extended family, friends, and members of the community whose lives he touched for the better.
John Metz was the perfect example of a self-made entrepreneur who became a pioneer in the hospitality industry. He started his career in entry-level positions in the industry and went on to serve as a cook in the U.S. Army. In 1967 after his service in the Army, and seeing a need for management services for food service, he founded Custom Management Corporation. Custom Management became one of the country's largest food service management companies. He eventually sold the company to Morrison's Hospitality, where he served as Chairman and CEO.
After several years with Custom Management, Metz turned his passion for hospitality to restaurants, specifically T.G.I. Friday’s. He franchised his first Friday’s in Wilkes-Barre, PA, which continues to be one of the most successful locations for the brand. He was awarded Friday’s Domestic Franchise Developer of the Year in 1995 and Franchisee Group of the Year in 2011 and 2016. At the time of his passing, Metz owned and operated nine Friday’s restaurants in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Metz expanded his restaurant holding in 2008 to include Northeastern Pennsylvania’s first and only Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Mohegan Pennsylvania.
In 1994, Metz’s passion for food service management led him to launch Metz Culinary Management, specializing in providing dining management solutions for healthcare, educational, and corporate organizations. He further expanded management services in 2000 to include custodial, housekeeping, and maintenance offerings with the addition of Metz Environmental Services. Following his time as CEO, Metz served as executive chairman of the board of directors, overseeing the growth of nearly 500 clients in 20 states on the east coast and Midwest. Today, Metz Culinary Management is currently ranked number 14 among the top 50 food service companies in the United States; together with Metz EVS, the companies employ more than 7,500 team members.
“Our father was passionate about the power of food to bring people together,” says John Metz, Jr., CEO and Executive Chef of Sterling Culinary Management in Atlanta, which he co-founded with his father, who also served as Sterling’s Chairman of the Board. “He was a man of tremendous integrity who knew how to make people feel special by sharing his warmth, smile, and contagious laughter.”
Throughout his career, Metz served on many food industry, general leadership, and community-focused boards and was recognized with numerous awards as an industry and community leader. Most notably, the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) Silver Plate Award, which honors outstanding and innovative talents in the hospitality industry. John was extremely proud that both of his sons also received the same silver plate honor. The Marriott family was the only other family to have 3 family members win this award. John was awarded the Nations Restaurant News’s Golden Chain Award and, through this, was voted on by his peers for the prestigious MUFSO (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators) Operator of the Year Award in 2002.
During his distinguished career, Metz served on many boards of directors, including the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation, the Leadership Roundtable, and Misericordia University, where he served as a past chairman of the board.
Long-time family friend Marjorie Henry Marquart comments, “There are many accolades that can be said about John’s business experiences. My parents and my relationship with John were ones of true friendship. He deeply cared for those he loved. He was always available when we needed advice, encouragement, and a good laugh. The community has lost an icon, and I have lost an incredible friend.”
Beyond his numerous accolades and awards, Metz was dedicated to the communities he served. He was recognized for his service by many groups, including the 2013 Northeast Pennsylvania Council of the Boy Scouts of America’s Distinguished Citizen Award, the 2013 Wilkes-Barre Association of the Blind Distinguished Service Award, and the 2014 Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizens Award.
“Even in light of his many accomplishments, Dad was always humble and down-to-earth,” says Maureen Metz, Executive Vice President of Metz Culinary Management. “He was a mentor, friend, and role model to so many, and his legacy will continue to inspire and guide us.”
“John was a gentle giant. His business acumen earned him national plaudits in the hospitality industry, yet his demeanor exemplified modesty, coupled with both concern for others and immense generosity. His greatest love and emphasis was always his family. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him,” said attorney Murray Ufberg.
Jeff Metz, president and CEO of Metz Culinary Management, adds, “We are comforted by the knowledge that his spirit will live on in the company he created and in the hearts of all who knew him. We will honor his memory and life’s work by continuing to uphold the values he held dear and working together to build on the foundation that he laid.”
John is now reunited with his wife, Mary. John and Mary Metz were leaders in our community in many different facets. Through their hard work, dedication and philanthropic support, they made a difference in the lives of an incredible number of people who needed assistance when they were down. The family has set up a memorial fund at The Luzerne Foundation, that will honor John and Mary’s legacy of giving through scholarships and nonprofit grants to those in need of aid in the Luzerne County and Sarasota, Florida communities.
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