Smokey Bones


Smokey Bones was a 70-store casual dining chain purchased by a private equity firm from Darden Restaurants in 2007. Under the terms of the transition agreements, the company was able to continue to use Darden systems and certain services to manage the business. When Zolfo Cooper was hired, the company was challenged by the end of these transition services agreements, with no ability to extend them and without adequate independent systems in place.

The company faced significant challenges in management of loss prevention, labor planning, and labor management. Their food costs were also unsustainably high in the face of a downturn in customer demand when the casual dining sector began to slow in late 2008.


Zolfo Cooper was retained in July 2008 as advisors to the company and deployed a team to stabilize operations and refocus management processes and structures.


Using existing tools and techniques, Zolfo Cooper was able to rapidly implement systems to begin managing operations independently and efficiently.

  • Developed semi-automatic processes for improving loss-prevention and labor management.

  • Conducted a comprehensive review of company’s procurement processes; worked with the company's purchasing group to drive down food costs by 25% through a structured bidding and purchasing process.

  • Established system-wide performance metrics to enable better cost control at the store level.

These, combined with other initiatives, allowed Smokey Bones to extend cash available to effectuate a turnaround.