For most of his adult life, John C. Metz, Sr. has been enjoying the beauty of Sarasota; for 40 years to be exact. First as a vacationer, then as a snowbird traveling here during the cold Pennsylvania winters, and now as a full-time resident for the past 15 years. “I love Sarasota and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else right now,” said John C. Metz, Sr. “It’s a year-round community filled with great people that I’ve gotten to know well over the years. Sarasota also provides a great opportunity to do business.”
Metz is not unfamiliar with Florida’s gulf coast, as his mother lived in Bradenton. A veteran of foodservice management, Metz founded his first dining management company in northeast Pennsylvania in 1967. The company was eventually acquired by a larger firm and grew under John Metz’s continued management. In 1994 he launched the company now called Metz Culinary Management. Through the years, it has grown to serve 366 clients in a variety of industries, including healthcare, education, corporate dining, and more. Florida was a natural fit for Metz and his dining management business, because of his familiarity with and love for the area. Metz Culinary Management now serves 24 clients throughout Florida with a strong focus on his home base in the Sarasota area. Among them are familiar names like the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and New College of Florida.
The opening of the Metz Culinary & Catering Center in Sarasota in 2018 enabled the company to expand its meal service and catering to reach throughout Sarasota, Tampa, and the surrounding communities. It has become a hub of activity in the community and instrumental in serving those in need during the pandemic. The culinary center is a 17,000 sq. ft. facility, which includes a commercial, state of the art kitchen, two racked 20 below zero freezers ample for storing 50,000 meals, two refrigerated storage locations, and ten delivery trucks.
The Culinary Center serves senior citizens through food brought into congregate operations, home delivery, and adult daycare centers. They also have a child nutrition division, which provides children in afterschool programs with hot meals. Their frozen USDA meals are sold to the general public locally as well as shipping throughout the United States. In addition, the culinary center assists the local Red Cross, Manatee County Emergency Operations, and the Sarasota County Emergency Operations with emergency food needs.
“We are excited to be a part of the growing Sarasota community, Thompson said. “In addition to serving the community meal needs of Sarasota and the surrounding area, it was our goal with the culinary center to provide a new and unique catering choice as well.”
In addition to meal service, Metz Culinary & Catering Center possesses impressive off-site event catering capabilities with the highly talented Certified Executive Chef, Nello Allegrucci, at the helm. Chef Nello’s team includes popular local pastry chef, Lyndsy McDonald, who was well-known for desserts at The Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota. It also includes general manager, Dan Thompson, a 25-year veteran of the foodservice industry who has worked with many national and international companies.
According to Thompson, during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, Metz was producing 40,000 meals per day to support their customer base, including seniors stranded in their homes. The Metz team in Sarasota found it necessary to quickly adapt to those changing needs in March. This included expanding existing warehouse storage, bringing in extra trucks for added deliveries and purchasing special equipment for packaging. Meals prepared in Sarasota were delivered to people throughout the state of Florida, as well as to locations in Georgia, South Carolina and Colorado. A sampling of the organizations served by Metz Culinary includes Feeding Tampa Bay, Meals on Wheels Manatee, Mid Florida Community Services, and Saint Vincent De Paul among many others.
Metz Culinary’s reach across the area, the state, and the country provides strength in expertise and in staffing for special events or for emergency needs. One special event included the 2019 World Rowing Championship in Sarasota with Metz delivering 245,000 meals in 14 days. The Metz Culinary & Catering Center team of 19 kitchen staff, 10 full-time truck drivers, as well as office and management positions was supplemented through the help of their local accounts to handle the dining needs of this mammoth event.
Earlier this year, Metz Culinary Management assumed dining management at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. The Metz team collaborated with museum management to rebrand and create a new vision in dining for the museum. The overall vision and menu were developed by the Metz culinary team in collaboration with Executive Chef John Metz, Jr., CEO, and Co-owner of Marlows Tavern and Sterling Culinary Management. It was inspired by the around the world trips of John and Mable Ringling, who frequently traveled through Europe in search of acts for the circus.
The Ringling Grill menu includes many of the Mediterranean influences they enjoyed, as well as inspirations from the Ringling’s love for Sarasota and the West Coast of Florida. The goal was to honor the rich history of the Ringling brand and the legacy of John and Mable Ringling with a dining concept as unique as its namesakes. Metz Culinary also worked to incorporate whimsical influences from the Circus and the Arts. The Ringling Grillroom, featuring executive chef Curtis Hawk, recently opened to rave reviews. The continued focus is on providing genuine hospitality, quality chef-driven food and beverages, and a memorable culinary experience.
“I was extremely familiar with John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, having visited it many times throughout the years,” said Metz, Sr. “It’s been an exciting project from conception through the opening. It was an honor to have the opportunity to work with this exemplary brand in bringing a unique dining vision to life in Sarasota.”
“Metz Culinary & Catering Center works closely with the Ringling Grillroom,” Thompson added. “We are a truly blended operation with blended staff that helps provide the experienced team needed for any event or occasion.”
Metz Culinary provides catering services for events large and small, from private in-home dinners with an on-site chef to large exclusive weddings and corporate events. “Not many catering companies can ensure an executive chef stays involved through the entire process, including being onsite to ensure a flawless event,” Thompson said. “This extremely personalized one-on-one service is just one of the many things that make Metz Culinary & Catering Center unique.”
“We look forward to continuing our commitment to supporting organizations throughout the Sarasota community, while we work to meet the needs of our Florida culinary clients,” said John C. Metz.