Media Coverage

The most influential restaurant CEOs in the country, according to Nation’s Restaurant News readers (02/17/2022) - Every year, Nation’s Restaurant News editors select industry executives for The Power List. This year, our list focused on leadership, and we invited our picks to nominate outstanding leaders from within their companies to join the list as well.

Smokey Bones demonstrates how drive-thru lanes could work for casual-dining restaurants (02/16/2022) - “Consumer attitudes toward casual dining have shifted especially towards dine in,” James O’Reilly, CEO of Smokey Bones told Nation’s Restaurant News. “The dining experience is now considered more special."

The most influential restaurant executives in the country, according to Nation’s Restaurant News readers (02/14/2022) - Nation’s Restaurant News editors selected influential industry insiders for The Power List. Peter Farrand, Chief Food, Beverage and Innovation Officer, Smokey Bones BBQ, The Wing Experience, & Burger Experience.

Here’s Where You Can Get Free Food On Your Birthday (01/26/2022) - Everybody likes to treat themselves on their birthday, right? So, why not treat yourself to some delicious (and deliciously free) food.

13 of the Restaurant Industry’s Most Influential Marketing Leaders (01/05/2022) - While Smokey Bones suffered the uncertainty of the past two years like other restaurants, Nichole Robillard says the brand took it as an opportunity to embrace its core positioning: "Meat is What We Do."

Foodservice leaders share tips on virtual kitchen strategy (01/10/2022) - The virtual kitchen, also known as a ghost kitchen, are restaurants that don't have any dining area and are created to either help operations at a brand's traditional restaurant or as a channel for delivery and take-out only.

Restaurants are Filling Their Menus with Smoke (01/04/2022) - Smoke-filled rooms may be a relic of the political past, but smoke-filled menus are totally on trend today, as operators of all types take advantage of the flavor enhancement and promotional panache afforded by the technique.

Trend Report on Online Ordering: Digital Demands Present New Challenges, Opportunities for Restaurants (12/29/2021) - Digital ordering is here to stay. Here are what leading operators are doing to meet current – and anticipate – future digital demands.

Trend Report on Online Ordering: Digital Demands Present New Challenges, Opportunities for Restaurants (12/29/2021) - Smokey Bones is among the brands tweaking the in-store layout to better accommodate in-store pickups of digital orders. "In some of our up-and-coming prototypes, we are having a dedicated pickup area for off-premise orders as a way to corral some of the traffic...” says CTO Brian Wallunas.

Best of Menu Tracker: 48 striking menu items in 2021 (12/22/2021) - Smokey Bones, which launched cinnamon-flavored “Dragon Wings” at the beginning of the year, launched whole three-joint wings as an option.

Smokey Bones to Build a Drive-Thru Casual-Dining Restaurant (12/20/2021) - The answer for Smokey Bones: a full-scale, quick-service style, in function, drive-thru system on one of its restaurants. “With a view to it becoming a part of how we do business going forward,” CEO James O’Reilly says.

Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill Review (12/15/2021) - Run to Smokey Bones. Get the Brisket Stuffed Grilled Cheese... There’s lots more to our Smokey Bones review, but that’s the most important part.

Smokey Bones Adds BeerBoard as Partner (12/13/2021) - "Smokey Bones is excited to partner with BeerBoard to implement its industry-leading technology to support and strengthen our beverage program," says Nichole Robillard, Smokey Bones’ Vice President of Marketing.

Smokey Bones Launches New Rewards Program (12/10/2021) - “We’ve been partnering with Personica since 2015 to power our CRM program; using intelligent offers to drive personalized guest experiences. With such a robust dataset it made perfect sense to expand our program to include a rewards component to create even stronger relationships with our guests, commented Brian Wallunas, Smokey Bones Chief Technology Officer.

America’s Favorite Restaurant Chains 2022 (12/01/2021) - For the first time, Newsweek and global data firm Statista are proud to award America's Favorite Restaurant Chains in selected categories.

Chefs help answer last-minute Thanksgiving cooking questions (11/24/2021) - Here's some cooking advice from Jeff Conley, the senior resident chef at Public Aprons Cooking School, and Peter Farrand, the executive chef at Smokey Bones, for anyone and everyone planning on working their magic in the kitchen tomorrow.

Takeout on Thanksgiving? (11/23/2021) - If you don't want to sweat over casserole dishes and a bird in the oven, these restaurants and businesses are offering Thanksgiving takeout specials big enough for all your guests.

Turkey Day to-go: Here’s where you can pick up a pre-made Thanksgiving feast (11/21/2021) - Another Louisville-area option for those not up for cooking this year is Smokey Bones... Naturally, corn bread, stuffing and green bean casserole is included.

Want to switch up your Thanksgiving? Dine-in at these restaurants in Greater Lansing (11/18/2021) - Thanksgiving has no limit on where or what you eat. If you like to switch things up or just don't like to cook there are no worries! Greater Lansing has several restaurants open for dine-in on Thanksgiving.

That Food You Ordered for Delivery? A Ghost Kitchen Might Be Cooking It Up. (11/15/2021) - It turns out that Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, with 60 locations nationwide, cooked up the Burger Experience.

Smokey Bones Releases Seasonal Menu Full of Comfort Foods and Cocktails (11/08/2021) - With the start of the holiday season, Smokey Bones is gifting its guests a new seasonal menu packed with hearty comfort foods and rich flavors to keep warm and satisfied during the cold winter months.

Introducing NextGen Casual: The Future of Full-Service Restaurants (11/01/2021) - Full-service restaurants are just scratching the tech surface. James O’Reilly, who spent four years as CEO of quick serve Long John Silver’s before joining Smokey Bones in fall 2019, says casual dining—five to 10 years ago—was entirely built around a comfortable environment with a good experience.

Collaboration, innovation focus of Fast Casual Executive Summit (10/28/2021) - The featured speakers line-up included executives of exceptional caliber, such as: Matt Friedman, Co-Founder & CEO, Wing Zone; Tom Krouse, President & CEO, Donatos; James O'Reilly, CEO, Smokey Bones

Smokey Bones Offering All-You-Can-Eat Wings for $19.99 on Thursdays (10/28/2021) - Starting now, Smokey Bones is offering all you can eat whole wings for $19.99 every Thursday, while Smokey Bones’ virtual brand, The Wing Experience, is offering BOGO Whole Wing Wednesday.

Change-Ups: Grand Rapids (10/16/2021) - Smokey Bones hired Anthony Thomas as general manager of its 4875 28th St. SE location.

DoorDash Introduces Search-Page Ads for Restaurants (10/12/2021) - Nicole Milnthorpe, chief financial officer at Florida-based casual dining chain Smokey Bones, said her company works with many of the outside delivery companies but its primary partners are Uber Eats and DoorDash.

Are There Too Many Virtual Restaurants? (10/04/2021) - Smokey Bones has been among the most successful chains in the space, adding virtual operations inside 61 locations across 16 states. The company’s “The Wing Experience” relaunched with 50 flavors in November.

9 Virtual Restaurant Brands With Staying Power (10/01/2021) - Although the pandemic may have fast tracked the digital ordering revolution in the food service industry, many concepts were working to create successful virtual brand long before anyone winced at the word "COVID."

How produce-centric plates are getting a pandemic-era makeover (10/01/2021) - Prized for their nutritional and functional benefits as well as their savory umami, mushrooms are growing on fall menus as appetizers, as with Smokey Bones’ smoked mushrooms finished with rosemary-garlic butter.

Is the Restaurant Industry Facing a Supply Chain Crisis? (10/01/2021) - Florida-based Smokey Bones serves a variety of animal proteins, which granted it more wiggle room than specialized brands in the wing category. Still, smoked, bone-in chicken has been a menu cornerstone at Smokey Bones; the company even launched a chicken-specific virtual brand.

Smokey Bones, Nathan’s Famous execs to discuss ghost kitchens at 1-day virtual event (09/16/2021) - James O'Reilly, CEO of Smokey Bones, and James Walker, senior vice president, restaurants for Nathan's Famous, will lead a seminar looking at the presence of ghost kitchens in today's restaurant industry.

Wendy’s, Smokey Bones, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar win MenuMasters awards for culinary innovation during the pandemic (09/16/2021) - Best Limited-Time Offer: Smokey Bones - The casual-dining chain rolled out a comprehensive line of meal kits a month into the pandemic, including raw proteins and sides for guests to prepare at home, adapting to customers’ needs during the crises.

Tech’s the Focus, but Labor PracticesGrab a Spotlight at FSTEC (09/14/2021) - Among the remedies Smokey Bones has discovered is paying employees at the end of every day they work. No work, no pay. The tactic “reduces turnover by 30-40%--those are big numbers,” said Chief People & Culture Officer Rachel Kelly

Smokey Bones Adds USDA Prime Bone-in Steak and other LTOs to Menu (08/26/2021) - Smokey Bones is expanding its steak offerings with a new USDA Prime bone-in New York strip steak, sourced from the legendary Allen Brothers, supplier to some of the best steakhouses in the country.

How this nonprofit is raising funds for children of restaurant workers in need (08/26/2021) - We have our first official partner: Smokey Bones BBQ, who chose us as their charity of choice.

Chicken wars extend beyond wings, sandwiches (08/20/2021) - Similarly, in response to the chicken shortage, Aventura, Fla.–based Smokey Bones launched The Wing Experience, a virtual brand built around bone-in, whole wings offered in 50 flavors.

Smokey Bones opening two new restaurants in Greater Indianapolis, Detroit markets (08/15/2021) - Smokey Bones is gearing up for openings in the suburbs of Indianapolis and Detroit. These restaurants in Avon, Ind. and Utica, Mich. will feature new concept prototype stores, with an emphasis on off-premises business and virtual restaurants, The Wing Experience and Burger Experience.

The Cost of Doing Business for Restaurants Has Gone Up (08/13/2021) - But as always in this industry, "Life finds a way," the CEO of Smokey Bones explains.

Smokey Bones Showcases its ‘Restaurant of the Future’ (08/06/2021) - The 62-unit brand on Monday unveiled a new prototype that features a smaller dining room, large bar in the middle of the restaurant, new decor, fixtures, original art, and a dedicated off-premises vestibule with a separate entrance. The takeout section for Smokey Bones' regular menu and its virtual brands, The Wing Experience and and The Burger Experience.

Beverage Tracker: A summer of watermelon, cocktails, mocktails and cold brew coffee (08/04/2021) - There are a lot of new watermelon drinks on offer this summer

HT Talk Podcast: Smokey Bones’ Digital Transformation (08/03/2021) - Smokey Bones' Chief Digital and Technology Officer Brian Wallunas shares how Smokey Bones' digital transformation powered their off-prem pivot and what's next.

National Chicken Wing Day Deals: Grab plenty of napkins for all the deliciousness (07/27/2021) - Sometimes a national food holiday brings an even bigger deal. According to the brand, it is offering “eight FREE boneless wings with the purchase of four whole wings.” The offer is available both at Smokey Bones and its virtual brand, The Wing Experience.

Meat goes clean on restaurant menus everywhere (07/21/2021) - Smokey Bones takes a different, more preemptive approach to protein expertise with its “Masters of Meat” positioning.

After Layoffs and Months of COVID Setbacks, Will Workers Return to Restaurants? (07/20/2021) - Smokey Bones CEO James O’Reilly refers to this as “human-centric leadership.”

Smokey Bones Ghost Kitchen & Virtual Brands (07/13/2021) - “Ghost kitchens and virtual brands give us the ability to increase our points of distribution in a very efficient way, especially in trade areas where we have restaurants.” – James O'Reilly

Smokey Bones CEO: How We Adapted to a Brave New World (07/07/2021) - As many other restaurants did during the pandemic, Smokey Bones quickly learned to adapt to a brave new world. We followed the CDC guidelines and each of our states’ leads, shut our dining rooms when necessary, did what was best for our guests and employees while fighting hard to keep our business upright.

This Chicken Sandwich Comes in 50 Different Flavors (07/06/2021) - The latest is a completely customizable chicken sandwich that comes in 50 different flavors. The Wing Experience, a chicken-focused virtual restaurant from Smokey Bones, is unleashing its attempt at chicken sandwich stardom just in time for National Fried Chicken Day.

How Smokey Bones Diversifies the Menu to Please Many Palates and Control Meat Costs (07/01/2021) - Peter Farrand, chief food and beverage innovation officer at Smokey Bones, felt that customers needed a little more variety to complement the restaurant’s signature barbecue items. So he diversified the menu, creating what he calls a “protein candy store,” where guests have the choice of many different cuts, global flavor profiles and formats.

Diners Visiting Restaurants at Record Pace, Yelp Says (06/24/2021) - Smokey Bones’ virtual brand The Wing Experience rolled out Whole Wings, which features cheaper parts of the bird. On the quick-service side, Wingstop essentially did the same when it introduced Thighstop, a new virtual brand that sells bone-in and boneless thighs.

Smokey Bones’ Digital Transformation Powers Off-Prem Pivot (06/17/2021) - As chief executive of Aventura, Florida-based Smokey Bones, O’Reilly and chief digital and technology officer, Brian Wallunas, have transformed the company’s digital infrastructure from A to Z, and as a result have driven customer engagement and improved productivity and operations — allowing its employees to focus on serving up genuine hospitality.

Weekend preview: Dad, your pound-of-bacon BLT sandwich is ready Just in time for Father’s Day, the South Florida-based restaurant chain Smokey Bones has added a few menu items, including a BLT made with a pound of bacon. (06/18/2021) - Just in time for Father's Day, the South Florida-based restaurant chain Smokey Bones has added a few menu items, including a BLT made with a pound of bacon.

Smokey Bones’ Digital Transformation Powers Off-Prem Pivot (06/17/2021) - Not many restaurant executives can say they greenlit the complete multimillion-dollar overhaul of a company’s technology infrastructure amidst a global pandemic and realized a 100% ROI in six months, but James O’Reilly can. As chief executive of Aventura, Florida-based Smokey Bones, O’Reilly and chief digital and technology officer, Brian Wallunas, have transformed the company’s digital infrastructure from A to Z, and as a result have driven customer engagement and improved productivity and operations — allowing its employees to focus on serving up genuine hospitality.

Smokey Bones Add Hot Eats, Cool Drinks All Summer Long (06/15/2021) - The masters of meat at Smokey Bones are at it again — introducing a new summer menu that sizzles with a bone-in pork porterhouse, Southern Sampler platter with three types of meat (a charcuterie) , a BLT with a full pound of bacon (yep, that’s right), and Fritos® Chili Pie.

The 11 Biggest Restaurant Storylines of the COVID-19 Era (06/14/2021) - Smokey Bones' virtual brand, the Wing Experience recently introduced Whole Wings, which consists of a drumstick, flat, and wingtip. Smokey Bones said the concept will continue to serve traditional wings, but warned they may be unavailable at times.

How to score free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day (06/01/2021) - At this chain, get a free Bag O' Donuts with any $40 purchase on National Doughnut Day. These warm cinnamon sugar donuts come five to a bag and are served with chocolate and raspberry dipping sauces.

Smokey Bones adds global flavors as it aims to become a ‘destination for meat lovers’ (03/01/2021) - Orlando Sentinel

SMOKEY BONES INTRODUCES NEW FLAVORS WITH GLOBAL INFLUENCES. (03/03/2021) - The new menu additions are hailed as the "Protein Candy Stores."

Smokey Bones’ New Menu Gets Global (02/23/2021) - Smokey Bones is introducing new flavors with global influences

7 Fast Food Chains You Can Only Find Online (09/30/2020) - Check out our virtual brand The Burger Experience.

Ghost Kitchens and Virtual Brands: What’s the Difference? (09/29/2020) - Learn more about ghost kitchens, how they differ from virtual brands, and the initiatives Smokey Bones is taking in both of these spaces.

New Menu Items – National Restaurant News (09/29/2020) - Take a look at the new items to hit our Smokey Bones menu.

Students Get Real World Experience In Helping Lead A Business Through a Pandemic (06/04/2020) - Students Get Real Word Experience In Helping Lead A Business Through A Pandemic

Listen to Smokey Bones COO Speak About Smokey Bones Commitment to Serve “Anytime, Anywhere” (06/04/2020) - Listen to Smokey Bones COO, Hal Lawlor, speak about Smokey Bones commitment to serve “Anytime, Anywhere” thru technology.

Check Out Smokey Bones CFO Answering Q&A With Door Dash (06/04/2020) - Check out Smokey Bones CFO, Nicole Milnthorpe, Answering Q&A with Door Dash about Evolving Your Off-Premise Strategy!

Smokey Bones Opens Ghost Kitchen With Kitchen United in Chicago (05/21/2020) - Smokey Bones goes virtual launching 2 Delivery-Only Virtual Restaurant Brands

Life After Lockdown: Georgia Returns to Normality (05/15/2020) - Check out Smokey Bones getting international coverage in the London Telegraph.

Furloughed Hoosier Employees Returning to Work Amid Pandemic (05/15/2020) - View this inspiring clip of our Greenwood, IN dining room reopening!

Georgia Restaurants Are Allowed To Open: Now What? (05/15/2020) - Read how Georgia restaurants, including Smokey Bones, are handling dining room reopening.

Wow Bao, Zoup, Smokey Bones leaders share tips on virtual kitchen strategy (01/05/2022) - At Smokey Bones there are two virtual Smokey Bones up and running, as well as 60 brick and mortar locations, and the virtual kitchens were opened pre-pandemic. One is called the Wing Experience and the other the Burger Experience, and both are distinct brands, according to CEO O'Reilly.