Ryan Krebs has taken over the foodservice reins at Rutter’s Farm Stores after Jerry Weiner, the renowned vice president of foodservice, retired on Aug. 28.
Krebs, however, is no new comer to the Rutter’s team. He has worked for Rutter’s since May 2013, which has provided Krebs enough time to learn what the company’s foodservice programs comprise, and where they’re headed.
“When I first started with Rutter’s I was working in the convenience store as a roving restaurant manager,” Krebs said. “It was great exposure because I was able to learn a lot about Rutter’s and how things work at different sized stores. It was a good foundation for me.”
York, Pa.-based Rutter’s operates 60 locations in Pennsylvania.
In August 2014, Krebs was named the restaurant manager at a newly-opened Rutter’s Middletown, Pa. location. That job provided him a grander perspective of the c-store’s operational footprint.
“I went from driving around York County working in different stores on a weekly basis to going to one location and being able to identify with one location and that was a great experience,” Krebs said. “Middletown is a very high volume store and continues to do extremely well.”
After Weiner announced his retirement, Krebs was called into the Rutter’s headquarters and awarded the position of director of food services in June 2015.
“Following a nationwide search of candidates, it was determined that the bench strength of Rutter’s in-house candidates was exceptionally strong. So, several candidates were brought in to interview and I was offered the position,” Krebs said. “It was of great value to the company to have someone who already understood the Rutter’s philosophy and vision, while still having the skill set to perform in this position. Having multiple in-house candidates speaks volumes about Rutter’s management-level training, education and experience.”
Weiner’s position has been split into two positions. While Krebs works as director of foodservice, focusing on the food category and related creation and development, Chuck Moyer, category manager, will manage the coffee, fountain, produce and other sub-categories for Rutter’s.
Krebs was surprised when he was called in to interview for the position. “I assumed the process would include looking from the outside. And, knowing Rutter’s reputation around the world, I knew that each candidate would bring a lot to the table,” he said. “What did not surprise me was that we had qualified in-house candidates or that Rutter’s pursued that opportunity. Rutter’s commitment and track record from promoting within is by far the most aggressive and successful I have seen in my career.”
Big Shoes to Fill
Krebs is the first to admit that taking over for Weiner, is no small feat.
“It is no secret to anyone in the convenience store industry that Mr. Weiner is arguably the best in the business. I consider it the greatest privilege to take over the award-winning food program that he has developed,” said Krebs. “Just in the short time I spent working directly with him, I have seen his passion for food, his commitment to our customers and the respect he has from his colleagues and business partners. Mr. Weiner has set the bar at the highest level and proven that quality, consistency, customer choice and growth can be delivered on a daily basis. I look forward to continuing to evolve and
produce the Rutter’s food program, making it the destination of choice for our consumer base.”
Krebs’ extensive and varied foodservice background is sure to aid him in menu development.
“I‘d actually never been in convenience stores prior to working for Rutter’s, but I immediately embraced its’ uniqueness and applicability with my background, Krebs said. “With that said, I have been in foodservice for about 27 years and have always worked in food. If it had to do with food, I was a part of it.”
Krebs received his culinary arts degree from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I. in 1993 and began his foodservice career, gaining experience in an array of hotels, restaurants and country clubs around the country.
Prior to his return to Pennsylvania, he spent eight years working in San Diego as a corporate chef for more than nine nursing homes, which involved considering the healthcare aspects and quality, diverse menus involved in food.
“There was such a gap in what healthcare was doing and what was imperative to do when it came to the daily food experience for our elders, while still managing their health needs,” Krebs said.
The discrepancy between what was needed and what was being done inspired him to co-author a book, The Long Term Improvement Guide.
In May 2011, he returned home to Pennsylvania as an executive chef, and two years later became part of the Rutter’s team.
“My whole career has revolved around food, and I’ve been an executive chef in many capacities and environments,” Krebs said. “So I am confident that my universal management and food background can be translated well into the convenience store setting and keeping Rutter’s at the forefront of the industry.”
The new director is confident that with the strong team he has to work with, keeping Rutter’s at the forefront won’t be a problem.
“This is an opportunity I have positioned myself for my entire career. But, with the multiple qualified candidates I was still humbled to be offered this position,” he said. “My first reaction was proud—proud to represent Rutter’s at the highest level. My passion and excitement for this opportunity is just the same today as it was the day I found out.”