Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, a full-service bar and fire grill restaurant operating 66 locations and employing 3,700 people, announced the appointment of Ryan Esko as chairman, president, and chief executive officer, effective immediately.
Esko joins Smokey Bones from Sun Capital Partners, Inc., the private investment firm whose affiliate owns the company and where he served as principal—performance improvement, responsible for the supervision of the focused performance improvement projects for Sun Capital’s affiliated portfolio companies.
Esko previously led several key initiatives at Smokey Bones that resulted in strong improvements to sales, financial performance, and guest satisfaction scores.
Esko also has experience successfully running several U.S. and international consumer and retail businesses with annual sales ranging from $170 million to nearly $1 billion.
“We are very pleased that Ryan is joining Smokey Bones,” says Anthony Polazzi, a member of the Smokey Bones board. “With Ryan now on board, we plan to move quickly to continue our growth plan by adding new stores, completing major remodels, and looking at potential acquisitions.”
“I look forward to working with this great team to further accelerate the company’s brand and growth,” Esko says. “Smokey Bones is passionate about delivering good food, good drinks, and good times—and I am very excited to be a part of this great company once again.”
Esko earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois and completed the Executive Scholar Program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He succeeds Christopher Artinian, who left the company to pursue other opportunities.
“We appreciate the contributions Christopher made to Smokey Bones and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Polazzi says.