John Metz – Executive Chef


With more than 31 years of restaurant and hospitality experience, John C. Metz knows what it takes to create, run and maintain a successful restaurant company and has done just that for the past 17 years with his many culinary ventures in the Atlanta area.


As CEO, Executive chef and Co-founder of Marlow’s Tavern and Sterling Spoon Culinary Management which operates hand-spun concepts Market Street Café, Bistro 191 and Bistro 1230, John Metz is thrilling residents in the Atlanta area with cuisine that inspires and exceeds expectations of the hardest to please.


Metz’s love for the restaurant business originated at a young age when he started as a dishwasher at one of his father’s restaurants, soon moving on to prep cook and eventually running the kitchen.  Metz brings knowledge and flavor to the menus of Marlow’s Tavern,  Aqua Blue, Twelve Eighty and Sterling Spoon.  Trained by the best, he began his education at one of the top learning institutions in the country, The Pennsylvania State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management.  He then went on to pursue his culinary education by obtaining a degree from the distinguished Culinary Institute of America where he graduated at the top of his class. 


Metz began his laudable career at some of the finest restaurants in New York City including The 21 Club, Tribeca Grill, Park Avenue Café, Montrachet and Della Famina’s in East Hampton.  In addition, Metz served as executive chef and executive director of research and development for Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, the franchisor for T.G.I. Friday’s, where he helped develop the brands of Italianni’s, Front Row Sports Grill, Timpano and Samba Room.  As well, he headed up research and development for Carlson’s international restaurant and business division opening restaurants in 11 countries around the world.


In early 1997, Metz and partner Thomas DiGiorgio started their business with the creation of upscale neighborhood spot, Hi Life kitchen & cocktails in Norcross Georgia.  Hi Life focuses on fresh, local ingredients for a menu of reinvented American cuisine and a wine program that boasts over 50 wines by the glass.  “Hi Life put our company on the map at a time when those trends were not as developed as they are today,” says Metz.


Currently, Metz is the chief executive, co-founder and executive chef of Sterling Hospitality.  Metz co-founded in 2004, and currently operates; twenty-two locations of Marlow’s Tavern, an upscale neighborhood gathering place, and Atlanta-dining-destination Twelve Eighty, at the Woodruff Arts Center, the visual and preforming arts center located in midtown.  Atlanta-dining-destination Aqua blue Restaurant & Bar, created in 2001.  Aqua Blue brings global cuisine including unique seafood, sushi and steaks using the freshest ingredients to Atlanta’s northern suburbs creating a polished neighborhood experience.


In addition in 1997, Metz co-founded and currently operates an upscale contract foodservice company, Sterling Spoon Culinary Management, which specializes in on-site restaurant management.  This on-site foodservice and catering company created the unique concepts Market Street Café, Bistro 191, The Bean Counter and Bistro 1230 bringing a true upscale, fresh restaurant experience into the corporate space.  Sterling Spoon runs corporate dining facilities for The Coca Cola Company, Global Payments, Inc., Intercontinental Exchange, Aflac, McMaster-Carr, Miller Zell and Cousins Properties to name a few in the Atlanta market.  Sterling Spoon offers a unique corporate dining alternative to the on-premise business cafeterias of the past by creating a full service restaurant experience with the freshest ingredients the season has to offer, inside each of the uniquely positioned cafes it operates, adding a hand crafted, chef-driven culinary flair to ensure the highest quality flavor and presentation.  


Metz is very involved in the industry and communities in which he operates his businesses.  He serves on numerous boards in the restaurant and hospitality industry as well as many local charity organizations.  He is on the National Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors, Culinary Institute of America Board of Directors, Georgia Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors, The Atlanta Visitors and Convention Bureau’s Board of Directors and was appointed as Vice Chairman 2005 for the Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA).  Then he became the, 2007 and 2008 Chairman of the Board Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRōNA).  In addition, he is actively involved with the Special Olympics of Georgia and Share our Strength organizations.  Sterling Hospitality has raised over Eight Hundred Thousand dollars for these and other local community organizations. 


Metz and his companies have received some local and industry recognition since its inception; Chain Leader Magazine Protégé Award 2006, Atlanta ZAGAT Guide Top 10 Hosts of the year, National Restaurant Association’s Good Neighbor Award 2007/2008, DiRoNA award for 2 restaurants Hi Life Kitchen and Cocktails in 2001 and Aqua Blue Restaurant & Bar in 2006, Mobile 3 stars 2000 through present, Contribution Honors/ Recognition from Special Olympics Georgia, Aqua Blue Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2003-current, Jezebel Magazine Top 100 Restaurants for all three concepts, Gayot Best of Atlanta and 2013 Nation’s Restaurant News named Marlow’s Tavern one of its NRN 50 “Breakout Brands” for the year.

Sterling Spoon was named 39th in out of the 50 top contract management food service companies by Food Management  


He was also honored as the 2013 Gold Plate Award winner by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA). Metz, nominated by The Coca-Cola Company and Ecolab, was one of eight outstanding operator executives who were eligible for the award after receiving the IFMA Silver Plate award.