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

Owning a Zaxby’s is a little like joining a family without changing your last name. (If that sounds creepy, well, you have your relatives to blame.) Because to us, being part of the Zaxby’s family means having access to some of the best support in the foodservice business. We began as a family, building a local brand in the community. And now our family includes cousins, and sisters, and grand-children who are carrying on the tradition in communities across several states. Just like it was when we started, our mission is to consistently create encore experiences that enrich lives one person at a time. The more things change the more they remain the same.

LEADERSHIP TEAM

ZACH MCLEROY 

CEO & FOUNDER

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.

VANESSA FOX

CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

Vanessa joined Zaxby’s in 2020 and became our first Chief Development Officer in our 30-year history. She joined our brand with experience from large organizations like Jack in the Box and Qdoba Mexican Eats, where she executed real estate strategy and led restaurant development.

In this role, Vanessa manages Zaxby’s franchise licensing and development teams and fosters continuity with the design and construction function. Vanessa believes that the recipe for franchising success lies within making building investments the most cost effective and return oriented as possible.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA in addition to her culinary certificate from the San Diego Culinary Institute.

ROBERT BAXLEY

COO, ZAX

Robert joined Zaxby’s in 1992 as a cook at the company’s third location in Valdosta, GA. Quickly promoted into management and serving as the company’s first VP of Operations, his operational expertise from years in the restaurant industry was utilized by the company to establish many of the foundational systems still in place today.

Today, he leads our 100+ corporate owned locations and collaborates with the leadership team on finessing best practices around operations.

Robert attended the University of South Carolina and earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Valdosta State University.

BLAKE BAILEY

CFO

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.

DAVID WATERS

COO, ZFL

David joined Zaxby’s in 2005 and brought leadership and project management experience from organizations like The Home Depot and the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

In David’s current role as Chief Operating Officer, he collaborates cross-functionally to keep our strategic goals on track and maintain our core value of operational excellence. Through collaboration and teamwork, David and his team develop, implement, and measure progress of key initiatives at Zaxby’s that shows in what our team members and guests experience when they walk through our doors.

David is a Georgia Tech graduate and holds his MBA from UGA’s Terry College of Business.

JOEL BULGER

CMO

Joel came to Zaxby’s in 2018 as our first Chief Marketing Officer. He brought with him 25 years of marketing and branding experience in the restaurant industry with brands like Johnny Rockets, Wendy’s, Church’s Chicken, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Darden Restaurants.

He oversees Zaxby’s national media and marketing strategies and strives to excite and engage our guests in ways they’ve never experienced before from Zaxby’s.

Joel has a B.A. in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Georgia and holds an M.B.A. in International Business from Mercer University’s Stetson School of Business and Economics.

MIKE NETTLES

INTERIM 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.

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.

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