James Horler started his career at age 16 working as a kitchen porter and waiter for Trusthouse Forte, and became Little Chef's youngest regional director at 24. He moved to Granada to oversee nine motorway service areas and, from 1996, he was managing director at City Centre Restaurants (now the Restaurant Group), where he expanded its Frankie & Benny's brand from three to 65 outlets over five years.
In September 2001 Horler bought La Tasca for £28.2m with backing from private equity firm Penta Capital, and by 2005 he saw the group float for £54m on the Alternative Investment Market. Horler set up his eponymous boutique food service consultancy in 2007.
Horler is executive chairman of Ego Restaurants and Lloyds Development Capital and chairman of Nottingham-based management recruitment company Cartwheel Recruitment.