James O’Reilly is the CEO of Ascent Hospitality Management, the parent company of Perkins Restaurant & Bakery and Huddle House. James is embarking on an aggressive growth plan, investing in people, technology, and restaurant development.
Prior to Ascent Hospitality Management, James served as the President & CEO of Smokey Bones after four years as the President and CEO of Long John Silver’s, America’s leading seafood QSR brand. While at LJS James led significant business and cultural improvements, being named “Turnaround Man” by the Louisville Courier Journal and earning three consecutive “Best Places to Work in Kentucky” awards from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to joining LJS as CEO, James held brand leadership positions in some of America’s leading restaurant brands, including Sonic Drive-in (Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Brand Officer), and KFC US (Chief Marketing Officer). James spent many years as a marketing leader outside the U.S., as CMO of KFC Canada, Pizza Hut United Kingdom, and KFC/Pizza Hut Caribbean & Latin America. James began his marketing career in brand management at Procter & Gamble. He holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario, and an MBA from York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto Ontario.
O’Reilly has achieved his multiple successes by focusing on culture. “The power of a great and professional culture drives successful companies, and when that culture is well received and employees at every level feel engaged, they contribute the most,” he says. He likewise focuses on hiring people with humility, unflagging determination, positive energy and optimism. “These are the characteristics that I learned from my family who fled Ireland during the potato famine and from the many colleagues and mentors I’ve had along the way.”