How a regional BBQ powerhouse saved 30+ hours per week in back-of-house operations with Fourth's Forecasting and Analytics solution

Learn on Smokey Bones conquered the day with Fourth

The Smokey Bones story

Originally launched by Darden Restaurants in Orlando, Florida, in 1999, Smokey Bones has grown to a 62-unit casual dining chain in 16 states across the East and Midwest regions. On a mission to offer the best of American Barbecue, the company boldly proclaims: “Meat is what we do.” Smokey Bones truly smokes the competition as they authentically smoke all their meats, creating unique protein and meat dishes that others just can’t match.

Getting to the meat of the scheduling situation

Operator did not measure the previous forecast variance, but rather adjusted to reduce labor hours based on labor targets. There was no direction on where or when labor should be utilized – and no mechanism to easily assess scheduling for each unit.

The brand struggled with having the right people at the right place and time to deliver a strong guest experience. Addressing spikes during key seasons was also a challenge. Separately, checking schedules was highly inefficient, ripe for error, and challenging to effectively evaluate and they noticed that inefficient back-of-house scheduling led to long waits for food which negatively impacted server tips.

With over 60 locations, Smokey Bones needed a solution to streamline their operations while gathering the right data to make better decisions.

Conquering the day with Fourth

Smokey Bones turned to HotSchedules from Fourth as a proven, intuitive, and easy-to-use scheduling tool for both executive management and restaurant staff. Aside from the ongoing support throughout the rollout and onboarding process, the team gravitated to Fourth’s multi-function solution that includes task management, staff journals, and what they were excited for most – forecasting.

They found that customizing labor models was so simple to do without a lot of front-end work and with Fourth analytics, they’re now able to assess their restaurant’s productivity. Fourth’s granular data provides a snapshot of a restaurant’s balance between front-of-house and back-of-house and associated wage rate inflation.


Smokey Bones was able to turn around its staffing model to deliver on both the guest and employee experience while achieving its financial plan. Analytics from Fourth enabled the casual dining chain to strategically analyze all the data involved in restaurant productivity.

“When we really started deploying labor according to our new matrix with HotSchedules, we saw a lift in the guest experience.”

— Hal Lawlor, President, Smokey Bones

IndustryCasual Dining
ProductsHotSchedules, Labor Optimization, Fourth Analytics
SolutionsWorkforce Management, Advanced Analytics
Customer Since2023

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