DALLAS — Metz Culinary Management has made its mark in dining service since its inception more than two decades ago.
While the company’s roots are in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Metz’s footprint now includes a sizable chunk of the East Coast.
Metz, based in Dallas, has locations in 19 states and nearly 7,000 employees who provide food service in several categories — health care, higher education, and to corporate America and independent and public schools.
The company was established in 1994 by entrepreneur John C. Metz Sr. as a custom dining management service company. Jeff Metz, 48, president and CEO, said his father had a similar company based in Kingston in 1966, Custom Management Corp.
Jeff Metz said that, at the time, the business was the largest privately held food company in the country before his father sold it in 1987. In 1994, Metz said, former employees came to his father about starting another business.
“My dad was apprehensive about starting a new company, but he did,” Metz said.
Although the company focuses on food service, it also has numerous restaurants in the Wilkes-Barre area.
“We’re one of the few companies in the (food service) space that owns and operates restaurants as well,” Metz said.
Among the local restaurants owned by Metz Culinary Management are Lucky’s Sporthouse on Schechter Drive in Wilkes-Barre Township, Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Plains Township, and Lucky’s Craft Food & Drink inside the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
Metz said that in the past six years, his company has seen “double-digit” growth, and he attributed the rise to referrals and the group’s reputation of having a personal touch with clients.
“We’re very focused on our reputation and making sure we treat people right,” he said.
Chief Operating Officer Greg Polk, 50, also explained the company is “chef driven” in response to what he called an “evolving culinary landscape.” He said allergies ranging from gluten to nuts have resulted in Metz adhering to the strategy, and younger customers want a more diverse variety of menu offerings.
“Every single one of our partners have a chef in their operation,” Polk said.
He also said culinary support along the East Coast has enabled the company to provide training for new ideas for menus, and that 85 percent of Metz’s offerings are fresh food.
“There’s not a lot of companies that can say that,” Polk said.
Not just ‘handed to us’
While the business has increased its reach in the East, it also has broadened as a family venture.
With John C. Metz Sr. at the helm as executive chairman and Jeff Metz as president and CEO, Maureen Metz, Jeff’s sister, is the vice president of marketing.
Maureen and Jeff said the business was something they were born into, and their first duties were waiting tables and washing them.
“For us, we’ve always been involved with food service,” Jeff said.
Maureen agreed, stressing she and her brother had to work their way up through the company.
“It wasn’t just handed to us,” she said.
Maureen noted that challenges come with running a family business, but she said they usually are talked through.
Jeff added that the sense of family extends to all employees in the company.
“The people that work for us … it’s all of our employees; we treat them like family,” he said.
As the company has grown in its 23-year lifetime, it also has achieved recognition.
In 2015, Metz was ranked 16th on Food Management magazine’s list of the Top 50 management companies in the United States, and last year it improved to 14th.
Looking ahead, Jeff said he expects the growth to continue. He said he believes there is room for expansion on the East Coast, and he noted the company recently entered into an agreement to cater at Misericordia University.
He said providing excellent service with a personal touch has been a smart way for the company to grow.