Jane Newton Gives Everyone a Seat at the Table

Jane Newton joined the Creative Dining Services team two years ago with a heart and mission to serve. She cultivates a work environment where each team member can thrive and be valued for their unique gifts. Her commitment enables us to deliver authentic hospitality, caring for and engaging every guest and every team member.

Under her leadership, Creative Dining is carving career pathways for more dishwashers to become chefs and housekeepers to become food service directors. Jane wants team members to feel valued, fulfilled, empowered and have access to reach their professional potential. She is a driving force to make career growth stories come true at Creative Dining.

Today, we celebrate Jane’s own career advancement and her promotion from Director of People Services to Associate Vice President of People Services effective July 1. Her efforts are making a measurable impact with the Creative Dining culture and with team members who feel included.

“Jane has elevated our services and focus on employees over the past 2 years resulting in increased employee satisfaction levels across the board.  Additionally, Jane Newton has been championing our D, E & I initiatives providing a seat at the Creative Dining Services family table for all current and prospective employees,” said Jim Eickhoff, President/CEO.

In anticipation of her promotion and to celebrate Jane’s success, we asked her probing questions about her core values, top priorities, dining trends and even her favorite must-try restaurants in West Michigan.

We talk a lot about core values at Creative Dining. Here are Jane Newton’s core values and how they have impacted her career, leadership, and decision making.

Jane Newton: My top core personal values are faith, collaboration, and compassion. I am willing to be vulnerable and lead with authenticity.  I approach each situation with compassion and find a way to move forward together. Everything I achieve is because of my faith in a higher power and in people. We each have gifts to share with the world and some are yet to be discovered.

One summer, I was a returning participant to a leadership conference and already knew many people from previous events. Months after this, one of the attendees shared how that was her first conference and how much it meant for me to invite her to join our table. It was a simple gesture from me, that was a big deal for her. I think about how many people have since been impacted by her leadership. Imagine the impact of a single interaction. Have you told people how they made an impact on you?

Jane Newton is responsible for leading diversity, equity and inclusion at Creative Dining. Learn how she defines D, E & I and why that’s important.

Jane: Creative Dining is committed to thoughtfully growing, sustaining and celebrating a culture where everyone is embraced, valued, and has fair access to opportunities. We talk about having a seat for everyone at our table (diversity), making sure everyone can eat the meal (equity and access to experiences), and being valued to join in on the table conversation (inclusion).  It’s about making sure you have voices with different lived experiences at the table to challenge decision makers and avoid creating barriers with a program or policy that would have otherwise seemed great on the surface.

We all know what it is like to feel new or like we don’t belong. Making sure people are included and valued supersedes my discomfort as a natural introvert.  Be the person who says, “come sit with us” to someone new and actually get to know them as an individual. You will become part of their journey and they will become part of yours.

What trends has Jane Newton seen in dining over the past 5 years? How is Creative Dining evolving to meet those trends?

Jane: Flexitarian is a new term I added to my vocabulary in 2021. Less meat. More plants. Did you know, the natural resources required to produce just 1 pound of meat are 3x higher than their plant protein counterparts? Eating more plant-based foods and eliminating animal products from a meal a few times per week can have a positive impact on our health and the planet. It does not have to be an all-or-nothing.

Creative Dining partnered with The Humane Society to kick off Earth Week 2021 with a Flexitarian Challenge. We challenged diners to eat 1 plant-based meal per day, for 7 days, and reduce their carbon footprint. This was a great way to practice your flexi skills, have an excuse to experiment with plant-based milks, and a chance to win cool sustainable prizes that would get you outside to explore our amazing planet.

Here are Jane Newton’s top three must-try restaurants and her favorite dishes at each in West Michigan.

Jane Newton: How can I pick just three? There are so many great options and hard-working restaurateurs deserving of a shout out. If I had to choose, here are a few of my top picks.

#1 is Chez Olga in Eastown for Haitian food. The perfect balance of heat with loads of flavor. The Caribbean HEAT is no joke! Level “3” is the most I can tolerate for medium spice.  I usually order fried pork and plantains (Griyo Ak Ban-nan) and Goat Ragu to-go, and enjoy a Yesterdog a few doors down while I wait.

#2 is Seoul Market Café in Wyoming, MI. Their Korean food is better than my mom’s (sorry, 엄마)! The spicy pork is so good (Jaeyuk Bokkeum 제육볶음). I love the noodles with black bean sauce (Jjajang Myun짜장면), and kimchi stew is the ultimate comfort classic (Kimchi Jjigae 김치찌개).

#3 is Zeytin Turkish Restaurant in Downtown Ada. I always order their Eggplant Salsa, Spinach Tomato Soup (so flavorful!), and Chicken Shish Kebab. I would only ever order chicken on the bone or fried, until Zeytin converted me with THE most tender chicken. The Turkish Delight with sautéed veggies over hummus is my back-up when I want to mix it up. Their new location has great outdoor seating!

Let Jane Newton know what you thought of her restaurant recommendations. Reach out to her on LinkedIn.

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Learn More about Creative Dining

Founded in 1990 with the vision of providing a personalized and flexible approach to food service management, Creative Dining builds fresh, custom dining programs for colleges and universities, corporations, assisted living communities and conference centers. Creative Dining services delicious cuisine to thousands of people daily at over 70 locations in 14 states with 2,000+ employees. Plus, they know that dining is about much more than just food. Dining together fosters and celebrates culture. It brings people together to share experiences, build community, and creates a sense of belonging.

Feed your culture today – literally! If you’re looking to foster engagement, retention, productivity and satisfaction for those who call your organization their school, work or home, Creative Dining can help. CreativeDining.com

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