ABOUT US

OUR STORY

How can we begin to describe a journey that has been… well, indescribable? It started innocently enough. Two boyhood friends had the idea to give wings and fingers a shot at the big time – promoting them from appetizers to entrees. So Zach and Tony rubbed two nickels together and opened a restaurant in the college town of Statesboro, GA. The food was great. And the response was even greater. Before long, there was so much demand for Zaxby’s restaurants, they had to franchise just to keep up. Besides, in their heart of hearts, they wanted to help other people own their own business too. They set up their headquarters in Athens, GA and began serving their franchisee family with the same attitude that had made them a hit with customers. The rest, as they say, is Hiztory.

OUR VIBE

Our table is diverse, inclusive, authentic, and inviting.All of those who sit here are proud to be part of feeding futures,nurturing souls, & sustaining the mission of creating encore experience that enrich lives one person at a time.

The Zaxby’s values tell us that when we work hard and pursue greatness while focusing on a culture of service, we build stronger foundations, families, networks, businesses, and communities.

That is the work, and heart, of Zaxby’s. Yes, we cook indescribably great chicken— that’s a given and a promise. But through a love of bringing people together over our food, we strive to impact our communities through opportunity, growth, and experience.

While we consistently evolve our “roadmap,” we know the promise is in reaching the destination. We are on our way to fulfilling that vision, so sit down and stay awhile. We’re so glad you’re here.

LEADERSHIP TEAM

ZACH MCLEROY 

FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD

Zach McLeroy, CEO, and founder of Zaxby’s, has grown a billion-dollar franchise through hard work, resiliency, and determination that all began with a dream and an opportunity in 1990.

Over the past 30 years, he has built the Zaxby’s brand into more than just a quick-service chicken chain. He has found the secret to success is serving our communities quality food, providing team members opportunity, creating a definable culture of service, and collaborating with strategic partners to grow the brand to new heights.

Under Zach’s leadership, Zaxby’s has been recognized in numerous publications and trades throughout the years. Most recently, Forbes listed Zaxby’s as one of its Best Large Employers in 2021 as well as Dealmakers of the Year 2021 by Franchise Times for our new partnership with Goldman Sachs.

Today, he oversees all business functions through a strong leadership team, collaborates with our partners at Goldman Sachs, and continues to cast vision for Zaxby’s bright future.

BERNARD ACOCA

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Bernard joined Zaxby’s in January 2022 as the company’s first incoming CEO. Bernard brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the QSR industry. He most recently served as CEO and President of El Pollo Loco and led the brand through a transformation that included digital e-commerce and streamlining drive-thru and back-of-the-house operations. He also successfully doubled down on brand positioning with a new contemporary restaurant design in preparation for aggressive franchise expansion domestically.

Prior to becoming the CEO and President of El Pollo Loco, he spent seven years at Starbucks as a member of its leadership team, as the Senior Vice President, Marketing & Category for the Americas and as President of Teavana. He also served as Chief Marketing Officer for the Americas for L’Oréal and spent ten years at Yum! Brands.

He values and is committed to servant leadership, culture, as well as creativity and innovation when it comes to leading brands towards sustainable growth. 

MIKE METTLER

CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

Mike joined Zaxby’s in 2022 as Chief Development Officer. Prior to Zaxby’s, Mike has spent 16 years in the franchising industry, developing several leading global franchise brands by recruiting industry leading operators and building world class teams. Before starting in the franchising industry Mike spent 15 years in the electronics industry serving as President of three different companies. His work experience includes start-ups, turnarounds, business development, mergers and acquisitions and large companies. Mike has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BA in Economics from the University of Pennslyvania.

BLAKE BAILEY

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Blake has been with Zaxby’s since 2000 when there were only 85 locations. Since then, Blake has been instrumental in helping build Zaxby’s financial infrastructure to support a 900+ franchise operation.

As Chief Financial Officer, Blake collaborates with fellow Zaxby’s leaders to develop future financial strategies.

He is a graduate of Old Dominion University and serves on the board of Downtown Ministries, Inc., in Athens.

MIKE NETTLES

CHIEF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY OFFICER

Mike Nettles joined the Zaxby’s brand in 2021 as our Interim Chief Digital and Technology Officer where he has big plans to personalize our digital offerings and create harmony by using technology to streamline our processes and create a seamless technological experience for all of our guests.

Before joining Zaxby’s, Mike led IT teams for various brands including Papa John’s and Panera Bread. He began his career during his junior year of college when he was recruited to join a start-up called Babbage’s—known today as Game Stop where he developed and designed their integrated POS and warehouse management system from scratch.

KEITH ANDERKIN

CHIEF SUPPLY CHAIN OFFICER

Keith began as Zaxby’s VP of Supply Chain and Quality Assurance in June 2020 and became the brand’s very first Chief Supply Chain Officer in September 2021. With over 25 years working in the restaurant industry with brands like Arby’s and Long John Silvers, Keith excels in fostering and maintaining relationships with vendors and franchisees.

At Zaxby’s, Keith and his team are focused on fulfilling the brand’s strategic goals in category management and new store development. Keith is held accountable for the long-term sourcing strategy for Zaxby’s.

Keith is originally from Lexington, KY and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.

BRENDA TRICKEY

GENERAL COUNSEL

Brenda became Zaxby’s first-ever in-house General Counsel in 2021. Brenda’s servant-led heart and exceptional experience at other culture-driven organizations such as Marriott International and Popeye’s made her a perfect fit as Zaxby’s continues to grow.

Brenda is excited to build a best-in-class in-house legal department at Zaxby’s that proactively anticipates the company’s needs and establishes processes and procedures to ensure legal matters, both big and small, are handled efficiently and expediently.

Brenda has a B.A. in political science from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctor with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

MICHELLE MORGAN

CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER

Michelle has been with the Zaxby’s Brand for over two decades. She began her career with ZFL in the area of Franchise Field Operations. She quickly moved through the ranks and her performance and dedication earned her the role of Vice President of Zax LLC. Michelle was recently named the new Chief People Officer where she will lead the organization in developing, implementing, and maintaining its first established people strategy. Michelle and her husband Brandon live in Watkinsville, GA and have a beautiful daughter, Penelope Grace.

SHARLENE SMITH

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Sharlene joined Zaxby’s in April 2022 as Chief Operating Officer. Sharlene has more than 30 years of experience at some of the nation’s leading restaurant concepts, including McDonald’s and Papa John’s. She has also served as a franchisee for a health and wellness company, building and managing multiple franchises in and around the Atlanta area, giving her a unique perspective from both the corporate and franchisee sides. Sharlene is committed to servant leadership and believes recognition and accountability are essential to building and maintaining high-performance teams.

PATRICK SCHWING

CHIEF MARKETING AND STRATEGY OFFICER

In June 2022, Patrick Schwing joined Zaxby’s as the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer where he oversees integrated media & advertising communications, culinary innovation, digital sales channels, and consumer insights.

Previously, he served as Arby’s Chief Marketing Officer and President of the Franchise Association at Arby’s for more than two years leading the brand strategy and experience. Prior to Arby’s, Patrick held domestic and international marketing roles at Procter & Gamble, where he worked across the group’s portfolio on brands such as Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences and Oral-B. In 2020, he was named one of Business Insider’s “25 CMOs to Watch.”

Along with Patrick’s vast professional experience, he has spent time as a Board Chairman for the Arby’s Foundation, which focuses on childhood hunger, youth leadership and career readiness. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Miami University.

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