Smith will Oversee all Aspects of Ascent’s HR, its Practices, and Operations
Ascent Hospitality Management, the parent company of Perkins and Huddle House, announced Melissa Smith as chief human resources officer. Smith will oversee all aspects of Ascent’s human resources, its practices and operations including benefits, compensation, succession planning, performance management and more. She brings more than two decades of experience in HR and franchising to the role. Smith previously served as chief human resources officer for Floor & Decor.
Throughout her career, Smith has worked with brands that connect people to food. “In spite of our individual differences, one thing we can all agree on is good food; it brings people together. Franchising allows people from all walks of life to be part of the American dream of entrepreneurship. I take pride knowing that a company I work for plays a part in achieving their dreams.”
Smith was attracted to Ascent because of its brands but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join the leadership team. “If you have ever eaten at a Huddle House or Perkins, you know they are craveable brands with great menus. They are [an] integral part of the communities they operate within. I was intrigued by the role, but once I met the leadership team, led by Michael Abt, I was hooked. They highlighted a future full of possibilities, and I wanted to play a part in our continued success.”
Abt, CEO for Ascent, looks forward to having Smith on board. “We are delighted to have such an experienced and talented individual join our executive team. Melissa’s extensive experience in human resources will be invaluable to our organization as we strive to build an amazing workplace and create customers for life, our overarching goals at Ascent. As we look to grow and evolve our brands, Melissa’s leadership and keen ability to engage employees across departments will help steer us toward an exciting future.”
Smith and Franchising
Smith’s background includes working with Focus Brands, the corporate franchisor for fast-casual brands including Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s. During her time there, Smith was chief people officer, senior vice president of HR and vice president of HR and leadership development. She also held senior positions with Church’s Chicken.
She loves the restaurant industry and the ability to connect business outcomes at the associate level. “When I visit our restaurants, I am reminded how important people are to the equation of a satisfied guest. We are a group that creates an environment that encourages a guest-first mentality, and it extends to our support center as well. We serve the people who serve the guests. What’s not to be excited about?”
For entrepreneurs with an urge to get into franchising, Smith suggests being “passionate about the brand in which you are investing your most valuable assets, money and time. Working for yourself is probably one of the most challenging but rewarding endeavors you will ever take on. Enjoy the journey.”