Brian McDaniel

Aspire to Inspire

Zaxby’s, Inc., the fast-growing chicken finger and wings restaurant chain, has announced that its CEO and Co-Founder Zach McLeroy will transition from day-to-day management to serve as chairman of the Board of Directors. The company also announced that Bernard Acoca, a former CEO and President of El Pollo Loco and Teavana, has been named the new chief executive officer, effective January 2022.

According to Zach McLeroy, he and Bernard Acoca have been friends for 20 years and are excited to work together to build Zaxby’s into a nationally recognized brand. After over 30 years of being Zaxby’s CEO, McLeroy is keen to transition to new leadership and continue working on strategy, innovation, and cross-branding Zaxby’s with other brands and platforms.

Bernard Acoca has over 20 years within the restaurant industry and brings significant experience in growth and developing shareholder value. As CEO, he will continue growing Zaxby’s footprint, creating new initiatives, and pushing the brand to new heights.

For Zaxby’s CEO McLeroy, Bernard Acoca is a proven leader – an ideal candidate, understands the restaurant industry, and brings extensive experience in helping brands thrive. “At Zaxby’s, we are excited to introduce Bernard to our existing and future franchisees, operators, and other restaurant industry partners,” Zaxby’s CEO Zach McLeroy said. “Not only will Bernard bring his extensive leadership experience to Zaxby’s, but he is a great fit strategically and culturally for Zaxby’s.”

Founded in 1990 by Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley, Zaxby’s, Inc. operates more than 900 locations across 17 states in the Southeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States. Everyone has a Zaxby’s story, where friendships are born over wings, fries, and chicken fingers. Where the food makes you smile, and the employees make you feel like family. Under Acoca’s leadership, El Pollo Loco was named “America’s Most Popular Grill Restaurant Chain” by Market Force Information for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014.

Additionally, Acoca helped to grow Teavana from a start-up into a publicly traded company with over 300 stores before its acquisition by Starbucks in 2012. See related link to learn more.


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