Piada Spotlight | Benjamin Sterwerf
Have you ever met someone who just feels like home? Meet Benjamin Sterwerf. With 34 years of hospitality under his belt, Benjamin’s passion for not just the restaurant industry, but the people he serves day in and day out as our Cincinnati market’s Senior Catering Coordinator, shines through the moment he greets you with a joy-filled ‘hello’. If you’re ever lucky enough to meet Benjamin, you will truly have a friend for life.
Benjamin’s love for people started at a very young age. Growing up in East Tennessee, he quickly picked up the generous and stereotypically friendly ways of our Southern neighbors. Those values have stuck with Benjamin even after moving up and on to the great state of Ohio.
“As a kid, my mom would find me talking to strangers. To this day, I can talk to anybody. And I do! If I cross you on the street, I will say ‘good morning,’ ‘hello,’ or ‘how are you?’ Sometimes they answer, sometimes they don’t. I love to make people happy. I’ve always been that way!”
His drive to make people smile has remained a motivator, both personally and professionally. Benjamin’s dedication to caring for others is beautifully represented in his role here at Piada and has helped him form meaningful relationships with guests both inside and outside our restaurants!
“I have devoted 34 years of my life to this industry. I believe in hospitality. I try to take care of my guests like they are in my own home. It has always come easy to me, and so I stuck with it. This industry has been good to me.”
What started as a part-time position serving Piada Mason Guests on the front line, flourished into a full-time career with our Catering team. Benjamin began assisting and shadowing Jamie Voss, Catering Manager, in 2016 and immediately garnered respect for Jamie’s leadership and approach to management.
“My working relationship with her has been the healthiest relationship I have had my entire career. Jamie is dynamic. She does not micromanage you. She empowers you.”
Together, Jamie and Benjamin oversee catering at all five of our Cincinnati restaurants. Benjamin has been working on our catering team for the last 6 years and credits his success and passion to Jamie.
“I feel like I have my own business alongside her business. We’ve grown sales, had to hire catering coordinators, and drivers. Jamie puts people first. She’s my hero. I just love her.”
Benjamin sees the best in people and invests his time and energy into celebrating and serving all who cross his path. His relationships come first and you can hear in his voice just how deeply he cares for his family and friends.
“While in college, I traveled to Tennessee to help open a new El Chico restaurant and met my now best friend, Andrea, during training. Four years later, she coincidentally transferred to the same restaurant I was working at in Downtown Atlanta. I walked in on my shift and she was working at my store! We have been best friends ever since, she was even in my wedding! When I moved to Cincinnati, we promised we would always be there for each other. Twenty-five years later, that has stayed the same. I don’t go one week without talking to her.”
Benjamin’s most coveted relationship, though, actually started with a blind date. Introduced by a mutual friend in July 2003, Benjamin and his now husband of 19 years, Tim, instantly clicked and the rest is history.
“I was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and I was in remission and met Tim in July 2003. My cancer returned a few months later. My doctor told me I had a 50% chance to live. I traveled to Columbus for surgery and Tim stood by me after knowing me for only 2 months. After my long surgery, I have been in remission since 2004."
Benjamin’s favorite place in the world is at the beautiful home they share. Tim, an incredibly talented interior decorator, has mementos and art pieces thoughtfully placed throughout their home that reflect the life they have built together.
“We love to entertain. We have parties out the butt. Have even opened up our home to my Piada family. That was one of the best Christmas parties I’ve ever had. We go all out.”
When asked if there are any words he lives by, Benjamin quickly answered with this:
“Treat people the way you would want to be treated."
If you’re looking for a career with huge growth potential, head to careers.mypiada.com.