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Smokey Bones completes its management overhaul

The revamp includes six new hires by CEO James O'Reilly.
Photograph courtesy of Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill

Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill has appointed six industry veterans to senior management positions in nearly a complete changeover of the casual chain’s leadership. 

The appointments are part of an effort to rejuvenate the 20-year-old brand by intensifying its focus on American barbecue and adult beverages. Toward that end, it brought in new chiefs to oversee operations, marketing, personnel, menu development and digital business. All report up to CEO James O’Reilly, who moved over from Long John Silver’s in May to revive the Sun Capital-owned operation. 

The lone major holdover from the prior regime is Nicole Milnthorpe, who remains CFO, the position she’s held for the past four years. Earlier, Milnthorpe was president and CFO of Shula’s Steak House.

The new hires and their responsibilities are:

Hal Lawlor, COO, who joined Smokey Bones in July after holding operations posts at Red Lobster and P.F. Chang’s. 

Danielle Connor, CMO, who spent the past 12 years with Darden Restaurants and Red Lobster. She will be responsible for communications, menu strategy, promotions, restaurant design and traditional forms of marketing. 

Joey Stewart, chief development officer. His prior positions include chief development officer for Cambridge Franchise Holdings, a 230-unit Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen franchisee, and VP of real estate for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. 

Peter Farrand, chief food and beverage innovation officer. A chef, Farrand joins Smokey Bones from Schulte Hospitality Group, an operator of 150 hotels and parent of the Joella’s Hot Chicken fast-casual chicken concept. Farrand was corporate director of food and beverage for Schulte.  

Brian Wallunas, chief digital officera veteran of Domino’s, Arby’s and The Coca-Cola Co. He is responsible for boosting Smokey Bones’ online sales.

Rachael Kelly-Marcus, chief human resources officer, a former hourly crewmember who most recently headed the human resources activities of Cotton Patch Cafe, a 50-unit full-service chain.  

“As we continue on the path of healthy and sustained growth, the executive leadership team we have assembled further demonstrates our commitment to our brand, our people, our culture, and our guests,” O’Reilly said in a statement.

Smokey Bones currently operates 61 full-service restaurants in 16 states.

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