Chefs & Owners

With a wealth of knowledge in the restaurant industry based on 30 years experience, Co-founder, Owner and Executive Chef John C. Metz along with Chef de Cuisine Kien Sam and Managing Partner David Smedlund work together seamlessly at Aqua blue.

Presently, Metz and partner, Thomas Digiorgio, are co-owners of Aqua Blue, Marlow’s Tavern and Sterling Spoon Catering, an on-site contract Foodservice Management Company specializing in corporate dining.

Kien Sam - Chef de Cuisine/Operating Partner

With 20 years of experience in the kitchen, Chef Kien Sam brings quality service and personal flair to Aqua blue Restaurant & Bar in Roswell.  As chef, his goal is to provide outstanding food to all of his guests and the neighborhood while also introducing them to new and eclectic flavors of global cuisine. In his role as operating partner, Sam manages the day-to-day ownership of the restaurant.

“Our diners enjoy the ‘neighborhood is family’ experience that Aqua blue offers,” said Sam. “One of the things I love most about my role is being able to give guests a memorable dining experience with our creative menus and thoughtful service.”
Prior to working at Aqua blue, Sam trained with and collaborated with John C. Metz, co-founder and executive chef of Aqua Blue and Marlow’s Tavern, gaining top culinary skills while evolving the menu to reflect his own culinary style. After 12 years at Aqua blue, Sam continues to be an instrumental part in the creation of signature dishes such as the lobster ravioli and calamari, and the development of breads and unique sushi rolls.

“Kien has played an integral role developing Aqua blue since the opening of the restaurant, so it was the perfect person for us to partner with and lead Aqua Blue in to its next 12 years.” said Metz. “As part of the operating team, Chef Kien will reintroduce our great regulars and introduce new diners to the unique, affordable luxury dining experiences Aqua Blue has to offer with a focus on future great food, beverage and service trends for many years to come.”

During Sam’s time at Aqua blue, the restaurant has won several awards including the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and the DiRōNA distinction, as well as recognitions from Zagat and Jezebel magazine. He is a member of the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and is on the Special Olympics Committee.  Sam also gives back to the local Roswell community including neighboring schools like Centennial High School, and works with the Roswell and North Fulton Chambers of Commerce. Sam currently resides in Lawrenceville and enjoys eating through the unique restaurants and food spots on Buford Highway and around the city to stay current on all food and beverage trends. 

John C. Metz - Executive Chef, Partner and Co-Founder

With more than 28 years of restaurant and hospitality experience, John Metz knows what it takes to create, run and maintain a successful restaurant company and has done just that for the past 13 years with his many culinary ventures in the Atlanta area.  As Executive chef and co-owner of Aqua Blue, Marlow’s Tavern, and Hi Life Kitchen and Cocktails, John  is thrilling residents in the Atlanta area with cuisine that inspires and entraps even the hardest to please.

Metz brings this knowledge and flavor to the menu of Aqua Blue. Trained by the best he began his education at one of the top learning institutions in the country, The Pennsylvania State University, where he received his bachelors degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management.  He then went on to pursue his culinary education by obtaining a degree from the distinguished Culinary Institute of America where he graduated at the top of his class.  

Metz began his laudable career at some of the finest restaurants in New York City including The 21 Club, Tribeca Grill, Park Avenue Café, Montrachet and Della Famina’s in East Hampton.  In addition, Metz served as executive chef and executive director of research and development for Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, T.G.I. Friday’s, where he helped develop the brands of Italianni’s, Front Row Sports Grill and Samba Room.  In addition he headed up the research and development for Carlson’s international restaurant and business division opening restaurants in 10 countries around the world.

In 1997, Metz and partner Thomas DiGiorgio started their business with the creation of Hi Life Kitchen & Cocktails in Norcross.  “Hi Life put our company on the map at a time when the trends we started there were not as developed as they are today,” says Metz.  Metz & DiGiorgio co-founded and operate an upscale contract foodservice company, Sterling Spoon Fresh Culinary Management, which specializes in on-site restaurant management.  Sterling Spoon offers a unique corporate dining alternative to the on-premise business cafeterias of the past by creating a full service restaurant environment inside each of the cafes it operates, adding a chef-driven culinary flair to ensure the highest quality flavor and presentation in the Atlanta area.  

Metz is very involved in the industry and communities in which he operates his businesses. He serves on numerous local and national boards as well as many local charity organizations. He is on the National Restaurant Association’s and Georgia Restaurant Association’s Boards of Directors, The Atlanta Visitors and Convention Bureau’s Board and was appointed as Vice Chairman 2005 for the Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA). Where he became the 2007 and 2008 Chairman of  the Board for DiRōNA. In addition, he is actively involved with the Special Olympics of Georgia and Share our Strength organizations. Sterling Hospitality has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for these and other local community organizations. 

Contact John via email


Thomas DiGiorgio - Architect, Partner and Co-Founder

Presently, Tommy is Founder, Co-Owner, and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of a three-pronged restaurant company with 19 locations, which are continually expanding, where he works closely with senior staff and the Board of Directors to increase sales across the entire organization.He is charged with spearheading real estate development initiatives, from site selection and architectural design to initial pro forma statements and comprehensive financial analysis.

His involvement with the steadily-expanding Corner Bar Partners, LLC operates eight Marlow’s Tavern locations in the Atlanta market. Sterling Spoon Culinary Management, Inc. is a high-end corporate restaurant management company, providing upscale dining options and cafeterias for giants like Coca-Cola, Avon, and Global Payments Inc. Finally, Global Kitchens, LLC owns and operates the wildly popular Aqua Blue Restaurant, an institution in fine sea food and sushi dining since 2001.

Tommy’s keen business sense has resulted in much public recognition over his career thus far, including the Carlson Restaurants World Wide Consultant of the Year in 2002 (recognizing top-notch work with T.G.I. Friday’s) and Contractor of the Year in 2001, The South Florida Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” Award in 2000, and the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Business Man of the Year in 1999.

Tommy has an exceptional educational foundation in the principles of finance, which he obtained during five years of concentrated coursework at the University of Florida in Gainesville.Tommy has extensive expertise in public and private partnership building, both on a professional and philanthropic level. Due to the numerous locations nationwide in which Tommy conducts business, his architectural firm is licensed in 43 states and his construction firm is licensed in 26 states, focusing on the Southeastern states.

Contact Thomas via email

David Smedlund - Managing Partner

As Managing Partner, David Smedlund is responsible for handling the day-to-day operations while, above all, upholding the restaurant’s core principle of hospitality.  Smedlund has been working in Atlanta’s hospitality industry for over 16 years.  Prior to Aqua blue, he held managerial positions at some of the city’s top dining establishments including BLT Steak, Nan Thai Fine Dining, Prime, Shout, Twist and Noche.  Smedlund has his associate’s degree from Georgia Perimeter College but proudly declares that his expertise in managing restaurants comes from years of hands-on experience. 


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1564 Holcomb Bridge Rd, Roswell, GA 30076 · Phone: 770.643.8886 · Fax: 770.643.8886

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