About Us

Love Food, People & Serving Others

Our Beginnings

In the early 80’s, while working for a large contractor and catering part-time, Marie “Rie” Meriwether Godsey, and her husband Eddie became convinced that they could provide what the global operators could not: personal attention, real partnership, and fabulous food. They believed that hands-on ownership, which is often found in the finest restaurants, would make a difference in contract dining. In 1985, with this ideal in mind, they launched Meriwether Godsey with two locations, an independent school, and a small college. Almost entirely by word of mouth, today we have grown to operate throughout the east coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts.

Our Beginnings

In the early 80’s, while working for a large contractor and catering part-time, Marie “Rie” Meriwether Godsey, and her husband Eddie became convinced that they could provide what the global operators could not: personal attention, real partnership, and fabulous food. They believed that hands-on ownership, which is often found in the finest restaurants, would make a difference in contract dining. In 1985, with this ideal in mind, they launched Meriwether Godsey with two locations, an independent school, and a small college. Almost entirely by word of mouth, today we have grown to operate throughout the east coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts.

Meet Our Team

Marie 'Rie' Meriwether Godsey

Founder

Like many young people, Rie and her husband, Eddie, found their first jobs in food service – Eddie as a dishwasher and Rie as a server. Hospitality soon became much more than a job and they launched MG in response to their growing concern that the major food service contractors were more focused on “standardization” and less on personal attention and customization. Rie lives the MG philosophy: to create fabulous food and remarkable service regardless of the size of the client budget. Today, Rie's passion and talent comes full circle as she devotes her time to studying trends and style and adapting them to each of our operating environments.

 

Leslie Phillips

Chief Executive Officer

Leslie came to MG in 2005 as Director of Business Development after 14 years in private law practice, having earned a BA from Randolph-Macon College and JD from University of Richmond. Her understanding of business relationships and view of operations from a client’s perspective helps MG deliver on our promises and maintain long-term, trusting partnerships. Her collaborative style, communication skills and love for the business made her a good partner to Rie in the overall vision of the company, as MG strives to set the standard for excellence in what we do, how we treat people, and the opportunities we create for our employee-owners.

 

Allison Godwin-Kelly

Chief Human Resources Officer

Allison was born in Bermuda, and came to the U.S. to pursue her degree in business from Howard University. She later received her Masters in Human Resource Management from the University of Connecticut. Before joining MG, she had a long career with Genworth, serving in a variety of HR roles. Allison brings years of experience in recruiting, talent management, and employee engagement; as well as an in-depth understanding of the HR complexities companies face in today’s environment.

 

Marta Ruggles

Director of Operations

Summers waiting tables at Lake Winnipesauke hooked Marta on food services. Marta has been with MG since 1988 and is also an alum of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (1982) where she was a server under Rie. She has worked her way through the ranks to be our senior field leader by demonstrating strong communication, coaching, and leadership skills. Her commitment to quality and appreciation for teamwork consistently gain Marta the respect of staff, colleagues, and clients.

 

Denise Simmons

Director of Culinary Systems & Purchasing

Denise has always known she wanted to be a chef. She graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 1987. Her career has included working in hotels, clubs, and restaurants; and since coming to MG, she has been an Account Director and Executive Chef at our first restaurant, Meriwether’s Market. Her love for food and sustainability makes her a wonderful leader for all things edible at MG.

 

Tiffany Cross

Vice President of Operations

A seasoned hospitality professional, Tiffany brings a wealth of operational experience to her role. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Hospitality Management from Howard University and a Master of Tourism degree from George Washington University.

Tiffany’s career path has included management positions in hotels, private clubs, and contract dining both in higher ed and corporate cafes. Prior to joining MG, Tiffany was in a VP role overseeing a portfolio of business dining on the East Coast, including Amazon’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. 

Tiffany believes that by “Sweating all the Details,” we assure exceptional results for our clients while demonstrating our passion for hospitality. 

Tiffany is an avid Disney vacation enthusiast and bona fide foodie, always looking for new culinary experiences.

Derek Carbonneau

Chief Technology & Marketing Officer

Before joining MG, Derek cultivated 22 years of senior technology, marketing, growth, and product experience with companies both small and large, private and public. Derek is a three-time Inc. 500 VP of Marketing and Product and has served in leadership and consulted for industries as diverse as biotech, e-commerce, gaming, healthcare, hospitality, and travel. Derek is also an avid home cook and always ready to experiment with new favorite cuisines. Whether telling MG's story or guiding the development of new systems, Derek relishes the challenge of balancing operational details, business goals, and customer needs to put smiles on our guests' faces every day.

Sara Thompson

Training Specialist

Having also started as a server under Rie (R-MWC, 1983) and growing with MG through the roles of Director and District Manager, Sara has always been known for her high ethical standards and her ability to do whatever it takes to assure operational performance. She adopts a systematic, “drumbeat” approach to onboarding, training, and coaching. This combined with her varied experience and industry knowledge make her extremely effective with new hires and long-term veterans.

 

Richard Hetzler

District Manager

Rich is a talented leader and culinarian who spent his early days working in various fine dining restaurants in the DC market, ultimately prompting him to launch his own restaurant Ovvia Osteria in Fairfax, Virginia. After that, he served in culinary leadership roles in education and cultural arts venues, including George Washington University, Georgetown University, National Museum of the American Indian, and Smithsonian Institute. In those roles, he had the opportunity to lead teams of 250-plus across multiple locations. Rich has a genuine passion for food, developing others, and delivering remarkable hospitality to clients.

Bill Korhammer

District Manager

Bill’s first encounter with the food business was as owner-operator for 10 years of a Domino’s franchise, with locations throughout Pennsylvania. He joined MG as a Director of Dining at a large day school in PA, then as a traveling Director, and ultimately as Director of Dining at Mercersburg Academy. His strong business acumen and sense of customer service, both for clients and MG employees, make him a great fit for District Manager. H His exceptional team-building skills originated from his years as an athlete at the high school  (basketball, swimming and volleyball) and college levels (volleyball at Lafayette). For years while his daughter was a collegiate swimmer, Bill stayed connected not only as a fan, but as a USA and PIAA official. Outside of work, Bill and his wife Deanna enjoy travel and experiencing new cuisines.

Chris Blain

Director of Program Design & Development

Chris grew up in the Virginia Beach area and has held a variety of positions throughout his career. He got his start as a line cook in fine dining which later prompted him to attend CIA and during his schooling, he earned an internship at TheHerbfarm in Seattle. He first joined MG as a cook at the Virginia State Capitol and moved on to be our Retail & Sustainability Manager at Guilford College followed by Director at Beauvoir School, and finally General Manager at Virginia Theological Seminary.  Between Guilford and Beauvoir, Chris had the opportunity to be the Executive Chef at the Virginia Governor’s Mansion for Governor McAuliffe. Chris has a thirst for world travel and experiencing different cultures. He continually seeks to absorb new practices, principles, and languages (6 to be exact), and, of course,  flavors, ingredients, and techniques.

 

Cate Smith

Vice President of Culinary & Brand

Cate began her food journey at a very early age in her grandparents’ garden and cattle pastures where she learned to respect where food starts. Her culinary path began in 1983 and has taken her from restaurants to hotels to private schools. Cate came to MG in 2001 and, like Denise, her career has included Account Director/Chef and Executive Chef at Meriwether’s Market Restaurant. Because of her passions for healthy eating and a healthy environment, Cate has expanded her work to include teaching culinary skills, nutrition and mindful eating classes.

Bob Lemon

Chief Financial Officer

Bob holds a BS from Virginia Tech and an MBA from Lynchburg College. His career started at Deloitte before joining Fleet Laboratories, a multi-national consumer goods and specialty pharma company headquartered in Lynchburg. Ultimately, he served as their CFO and was responsible for their global financial and IT strategies, culminating with overseeing a transformational exit to private equity ownership. With a collaborative and team-oriented management style, Bob brings a wealth of financial experience and practices to support MG’s operations, growth, and employee-ownership culture.

Long Nghiem

District Manager

Long’s passion for food and serving others started at an early age working in his family’s restaurants. A graduate of Virginia Tech’s Hospitality Program, Long was the chef operator of his own restaurants for many years before moving to contract dining. Long has leveraged his diverse experience to hone his culinary talents as well as his own unique leadership style. His commitment to excellence and tireless drive are a perfect fit for supporting our clients and our values.

 

Don Beck

Director of Systems & Technology

Don received a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Wittenburg University (1978), but like several at MG, pursued as a career the jobs that helped put him through school. As a GM for Steak & Ale and then as the Food and Beverage Director for a full-service hotel, he developed a keen appreciation for a systematic approach to every aspect of our industry. Don came to Meriwether Godsey in 1994 and was initially in operations. Fiscal responsibility and systems savvy make him an outstanding resource internally and for our clients.

 

Sarah Bell

Director of Finance & Accounting

Sarah graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Accounting. Before coming to MG, she worked for Fleet Laboratories in various leadership roles as the company transformed from a privately held corporation, to private equity ownership and then to a publicly traded company. Sarah specializes in financial analysis, budget & forecasting, and financial reporting. She strives to utilize her experience to “learn, grow and improve” processes for MG and its valued clients.

Tanya Hipp

District Manager

Tanya’s career in food services and respect for work ethic and drive started in a local fish and chips restaurant in Virginia. After receiving a Bachelor of Science from Virginia Tech, her passion for the industry carried her to Northern Virginia to the hotel sector. She returned to her roots in southern Virginia to join the MG family in 2003. Over the years she has successfully managed operations in a variety of geographic locations and with a variety of styles of service. Her detailed knowledge of day to day operations and “lead by doing” philosophy help everyone she works with reach their full potential.

Women-led

Beginning with our founder, Rie Godsey, and continuing to this day, we have a legacy of empowering women. Our CEO, the majority of our senior leadership, the majority of our managers, and half of our Board are women. This is unique in business and especially in food services.

Also what makes Meriwether Godsey different is our commitment and capacity to create unique, customized dining experiences for each of our client communities; to set higher standards for ourselves and to meet them, and to provide more support to our teams to deliver on these promises.

Experience it once and you will understand! We are a family of talented, and dedicated — managers, chefs, and service staff — operating from North Carolina to Massachusetts.

OUR COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

We are invested in creating and maintaining a workplace in which all employees have an opportunity to participate in and contribute to the success of the business. This means fostering and protecting an inclusive environment in which all employees feel respected, are treated fairly and their viewpoints, thoughts, and ideas are encouraged and embraced, regardless of position, age, race, religion, beliefs, socio-economic background, gender, who they love, how they identify and of course, other protected statuses. We proudly support vendors, partners, and suppliers who share these values of inclusion.

Our Culture

We help our people achieve their goals through steady support, coaching, and development, setting high expectations through which we constantly learn, grow, and improve. Tenure and Loyalty: words that go hand in hand, but are often forgotten in business today. Because of our people-focused approach, we experience very low staff turnover.  Our teams work to eliminate the “us and them” often found in contract relationships. We become an integral part of our client communities.