Metz Culinary Management is bringing employees back to the office by offering more than just foodservice

Metz has teamed up with its corporate partners to elevate office culture through food. Westfield Insurance in Ohio and Erie Insurance Group in PA have spearheaded the initiative.
Fresh field green salad
Metz has introduced build-your-own bars to diners at Erie Insurance Group. | Photo courtesy of Metz Culinary Management.

Convincing workers to come back to the office can seem a bit like trying to slam the lid back onto Pandora's box. According to the Pew Research Center, around 22 million employed adults age 18 and over in U.S. work from home all the time. That's about 14% of all employed adults. Is it possible that any of those work-from-homers miss getting lunch at the office?

Foodservice companies might be the key, as business leaders grapple with the question of "why come back to the office?" from a philosophical business standpoint, or the value of in-person communication, developing mentorships and collaboration on projects. The more effective gambit for pro-office culture might just start with "What's for lunch at the office?"

Foodservice in the office can be a selling point for office culture that's positive and healthy--and a team-building social activity as well. While more and more employees are making their way back to the office, as is noted through some foodservice providers, including Sodexo’s, most recent earnings reports, many employees have shown no interest in leaving the work-from-home lifestyle. As companies start to ask employees to come back into the office, foodservice teams are under pressure, needing to go above and beyond in order to sweeten the deal.

Metz Culinary Management has shown that it’s up for the challenge with its most recent dining initiatives promoting camaraderie and in-office teamwork. The team has worked on building impressive menus, with a focus on customization and employee feedback. Here’s a look at what the foodservice provider has done lately in the Business and Industry sector to remind diners about the perks of being in-office.

More than just foodservice at Westfield insurance

At Westfield Insurance, in Westfield Center, Ohio, Metz has gotten creative with its offerings to make way for an exciting dining experience that offers more than just nourishment. Westfield Insurance is the area’s largest employer, with over 2,500 employees. After the pandemic, the company introduced a hybrid work model. Leadership teamed up with Metz to launch “Throwback Thursday” a weekly competition that encourages diners to provide feedback about their favorite dining options.

“Our culinary team and our partners at Westfield selected the most popular meals and put them up against each other in a March Madness bracket-style competition, which we called Throwback Thursday,” said Phil Hudak, chef and general manager for Metz, in a statement. “Employees and guests were invited to vote for their favorite meal, and then we’d repeat the process over several Thursdays until we identified the most popular dish.”

Some dishes that were featured in the competition include meatloaf, kielbasa with 'kraut, mac 'n cheese, honey baked chicken and Cincinnati chili. The competition was close, with Metz’ meatloaf earning the title of “throwback champion” after four competitive rounds. The dish won by just one vote.

The competition received positive feedback from employees and Westfield Insurance even recently saw an increase in onsite dining participation. Onsite dining grew from about 350 diners during the pandemic to more 600 post-COVID, according to a statement. 

“The Westfield staff really enjoyed the competition and the opportunity to reconnect with their team members in person,” said Hudak.

Metz was so impressed with the results of the competition that the company plans to continue similar promotions throughout the year. Moving forward the team might highlight popular sandwiches and salads or multi-cultural foods.

Elevating the experience at Erie Insurance Group

Erie Insurance Group in Erie, PA, has recently required all employees return to the office three days a week. To help ease the transition back to the office, leadership wanted to help create a welcoming environment and food proved to be the key to establishing that.

 “Erie Insurance leadership wanted to rebuild the office culture and approached Metz to create enthusiasm through food to support social connection,” said Natalie Bartlett, and general manager at Erie Insurance Group for Metz, in a statement. “It’s human nature to bond over our favorite meals, so it just made sense to generate excitement through our dining offerings.”

One way the foodservice provider elevated the dining experience at the operation was through build-your-own bars featuring favorites such as nachos, burritos, noodles, pasta and rice, baked potatoes, poke and even soup. Metz also set up a variety of pop-ups with breakfast food items including bagels from local vendors. One employee-favorite was a traveling coffee court offering complimentary coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

The foodservice provider also leaned into after-hour events, such as wine tastings, led by Bartlett, who is also a sommelier, or wine expert. Metz at Erie Insurance Group has also held beer sampling events, which allows employees to try beers from popular local breweries.

In addition, Erie employees are soon to participate in team-building exercises, such as an Ultimate Chef Competition, where both Metz chefs and Erie leadership will serve as judges.

Bartlett said the events have been successful so far. To that end, she said the team has seen a 52% increase in employees participating in on-site breakfast, lunch and C-store purchases since January.



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