Lauren Fernandez, founder and CEO of restaurant and development investment firm Full Course, is pleased to announce the first three appointments to the company’s board of directors: John C. Metz Jr., executive chef, CEO and co-founder of Sterling Hospitality (Marlow’s Tavern, the Woodall and Sterling Culinary Management); Roger David, CEO and president of GSR Brands (Gold Star Chili and Tom & Chee); and Jeff Heck, co-founder and CEO of Monday Night Brewing. Metz and Heck are both based in Atlanta while David is based in Cincinnati.

As the industry’s first and only incubator, accelerator and investor in early-stage food and restaurant brands, Full Course’s progressive approach to investment begins with putting people first—much like these industry heavy hitters do at their own companies and within their local communities. 

“We are looking for people who have a high degree of alignment to our purpose and mission and who also understand a founder’s journey,” says Fernandez of her vision for the board. “What’s interesting about all of our board members is that in addition to founding or operating food and beverage companies, they also have other unique areas of expertise to bring to the table.”

As executive chef, CEO and co-founder of Marlow’s Tavern, the Woodall and Sterling Culinary Management, Metz is highly skilled at developing and operating successful restaurant companies. He has more than 30 years of restaurant and hospitality experience. He has a strong presence in the local community and shares the Full Course team’s deep commitment to education and redefining the future of the hospitality industry.

David serves as the CEO of Gold Star Chili and Tom & Chee. He began his career at Gold Star as a dishwasher and now leads the iconic brand that his family began more than 50 years ago. Since becoming president and CEO in 2015, David has expanded the company’s portfolio, restructured the organization to focus on training and development and initiated a $25 million rebranding effort.

Before co-founding Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta in 2011, Heck worked in private equity as a vice president at Roark Capital Group and as a senior business development analyst for The Home Depot. For Heck, beer went from being a weeknight homebrewing hobby in his garage to a five-taproom operation distributing across the Southeast.

In their new board member roles, Metz, David and Heck will serve as advocates for Full Course and strongly support the company’s mission by offering assistance in recruiting clients, securing investors and making connections. Members will serve an initial two-year term beginning in July 2023, attending regularly scheduled board meetings and playing an active role in charting the company’s future course. 

“I believe in putting people who are smarter than me around the table,” Fernandez says. “I took a hard look at the areas where I thought Full Course could use support and sought out people who have complementary strengths.”

Fernandez is committed to diversity and inclusion on her board and looks forward to announcing the members who will fill the remaining seats soon. 

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