the hospitality college

the hospitality college

Making the Machine Run
JWU Magazine 2011 Spring Hosp Matra 230x160

Peter Matra ’94 is a big sports fan. “Short of being a shortstop for the Yankees,” he laughs, “I’ve got the best job out there.”

Matra is vice president of operations for Centerplate, in Newark, NJ, a food service company specializing in stadiums, arenas and convention centers. His home base is the Prudential Center in Newark where he makes sure the food, beverages and merchandise service roll out smoothly when the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and Seton Hall’s basketball teams compete. The center also hosts special events and concerts.

Prior to the doors opening, Matra and his staff walk around the entire arena checking that food is being prepped, employees are in uniform and the entire operation is clean and ready for fans. Lending Matra a hand at the center are JWU alumni Brian Gatskill ’07, assistant concessions manager; Emily Brennan ’09, catering supervisor; and Justin Thomas ’09, concessions supervisor.

With seating for up to 18,000, 200 annual events, a full-service restaurant, bars, concession stands, 75 suites and a merchandise store, “There are a lot of pieces and parts that go into making the machine run,” Matra says.

He has seven other accounts in the New York tri-state area — minor league baseball teams and a hockey team — with their own arenas. In all, he has 25 managers report to him and oversees revenue in excess of $16 million.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” says Matra. “I went to school for hospitality management and this kind of brings it all together. I get to go to work at a ballpark, stadium or an arena every day.”
Email Peter Matra 

Online Program draws praise 

In September 2010, 39 students embarked on JWU’s first two online degree programs, a BS in baking & pastry arts and food service management and a BS in culinary arts and food service management. After three terms, the programs are thriving: the group of pioneering students is up to 62, courses developed for the program rose from 26 to 33, faculty trained to teach the courses increased from 79 to 107, and the number of online sections grew from six to eight. With the count still climbing, the program and its students represent 26 states and Turkey.

Returning alumni make up 89 percent of current students. Most hold associate degrees from JWU in baking & pastry arts or culinary arts and are immersed in culinary and food service careers. In addition to being more convenient for people who work full time, the online program is particularly well-suited for alumni because it incorporates course material required for the associate programs they have already completed. Thus far, feedback has been positive. “With these new programs available, I was able to ‘attend’ a school in Delaware and then transfer to a school in Rhode Island, and I’ve done it all from my office in Pennsylvania.” “If it weren’t for online learning, I would not even consider continuing my education at this stage in my life and career.”

For information:, 1-800-342-5598 x2300.

quick take:hospitality

Providence student Taylor Amanda ’12 was chosen as the first recipient of a $3,000 Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship, presented by Benchmark Hospitality International in Woodlands, Texas, in partnership with the James Beard Foundation.