Under the direction of new CEO James O’Reilly, Smokey Bones has brought on a new and experienced executive leadership team to drive financial and operational performance, sales and unit growth, menu and beverage development and guest satisfaction and loyalty. The new team’s purpose is to lead Smokey Bones to become one of the leading casual dining brands in the restaurant industry. O’Reilly’s team has over 100 years of combined restaurant experience, and has aligned around the brand’s new strategic plan.
The new hires include Hal Lawlor, chief operating officer; Danielle Connor, chief marketing officer; Chef Peter Farrand, chief officer of food and beverage innovation; Brian Wallunas, chief digital officer; Rachel Kelly-Marcus, chief human resources officer; and Joey Stewart, chief development officer.
“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,” said James O’Reilly, CEO of Smokey Bones. “Within the short time the new team has been in place, they have already impacted the direction of the company and made positive changes.”
Led by CEO James O’Reilly, the Smokey Bones executive leadership team includes:
James O’Reilly, Chief Executive Officer
O’Reilly joined Smokey Bones in May 2019 as chief executive officer and has amassed over 25 years of experience working in the restaurant and consumer goods industries. Prior to joining Smokey Bones, he was the CEO for Long John Silver’s. His previous experience includes leading Marketing and R&D for Sonic Drive-In, Einstein Noah Restaurant Group and Yum Brands (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC), both internationally and in the U.S.
Nicole Milnthorpe, Chief Financial Officer, CPA
Milnthorpe has been with Smokey Bones as chief financial officer since October 2015. Before that she spent nearly 13 years with Deloitte & Touche, and then several years as the President and CFO for Shula’s Steakhouse. Nicole graduated from the University of Miami Herbert Business School with a BBA in Accounting. She was awarded the designation of “40 under 40” by the South Florida Business Journal in 2015.
Hal Lawlor, Chief Operating Officer
Lawlor joined Smokey Bones as chief operating officer in July 2019. He has extensive experience in the casual dining industry having previously worked in senior Operations positions for Red Lobster for many years and more recently, PF Chang’s. Lawlor prides himself in building, developing and retaining high performance teams.
Chef Peter Farrand, Chief Food & Beverage Innovation Officer
Farrand joins Smokey Bones from Schulte Hospitality Group, where he was the corporate director of food and beverage. Schulte owns and manages over 150 hotels, full-service restaurants, and the 10-unit fast casual hot chicken concept, Joella’s. Prior to that, he was with Shula’s Restaurant Group as vice president of operations and the corporate executive chef.
Brian Wallunas, Chief Digital Officer
Wallunas brings over 15 year of digital and technology experience, working with leading consumer brands such as Domino’s, Arby’s and Coca-Cola to position these organizations for success in the digital economy. Throughout his career, he has focused on innovating and optimizing digital channels including eCommerce-enabled websites and leading mobile applications to drive digital transactions
Danielle Connor, Chief Marketing Officer
Connor’s brand marketing career spans more than 20 years in the consumer packaged goods and restaurant industries. She fell in love with the restaurant industry 12 years ago when she began working for Darden and has spent the last five years working for Red Lobster in senior marketing roles, including communications, menu strategy, and promotions, and restaurant design.
Rachael Kelly-Marcus, Chief Human Resources Officer
Having begun her career as an hourly team member, working in an array of roles spanning 20+ years, Rachael brings extensive experience in the operational and human resources fields. Rachael has led HR and operational teams in large corporations, small start-ups and medium sized organizations at various stages of business. Most recently, she led HR at Cotton Patch Café with over 50 full-service restaurants throughout Texas and surrounding states. Her prior experience includes having worked in an array of Senior HR and field operations positions for Sonic Drive-In and 18 years at Pizza Hut.
Joey Stewart, Chief Development Officer
Stewart brings more than 20 years of experience in real estate development within the restaurant industry. Prior to joining Smokey Bones, he served as chief development officer at Cambridge Franchise Holdings for four years where his team grew the Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen concepts from 22 restaurants to over 230 restaurants. Previously he worked for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers as vice president of real estate and served as director of real estate at O’Charley’s.
About Smokey Bones Fire & Grill
Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill is a full-service restaurant delivering good food, good drinks and good times in 61 locations across 16 states. Smokey Bones serves lunch, dinner and late night, and has a full-bar featuring more than 40 bourbons and whiskeys, 40+ beers and signature, hand-crafted cocktails. Its award winning slow-smoked and fire grilled favorites are available for dine-in, pick-up, online ordering and catering delivery. Smokey Bones, Inc. is an affiliate of Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sun Capital Partners, whose portfolio of restaurants also includes Boston Market, Friendly’s, Johnny Rockets, Bar Louie, and other restaurant brands. For additional information on Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill and a list of all locations nationwide, please visit www.SmokeyBones.com.