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 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.
FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
Zach McLeroy, Chairman 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. He has found the secret to success is serving our communities quality food, providing team members opportunities, creating a definable culture of service and collaborating with strategic partners to grow the brand.
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 a new partnership with Goldman Sachs.
As Chairman, he continues to cast a vision for Zaxby’s bright future.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
In January 2022, Bernard joined Zaxby’s as the company’s first incoming CEO. He most recently served as CEO and President of El Pollo Loco, leading 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 10 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.
CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
Mike joined Zaxby’s in May 2022, focusing on DMA prioritization, developing a more robust recruitment platform and delivering building options that provide flexibility while maximizing profitability.
Before Zaxby’s, Mike served as Chief Development Officer for Orangetheory Fitness. He spent more than a decade in franchise development roles for Dairy Queen and Domino’s Pizza. Mike believes that franchising growth requires a strong business model, a solid culture, passionate franchise owners and strategic areas to develop.
Along with his experience at highly recognizable brands, Mike holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from the University of Michigan and a CFE designation.
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 the 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.
CHIEF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY OFFICER
Mike Nettles currently serves as Zaxby’s Chief Digital and Technology Officer where he has big plans to personalize our digital offerings and create harmony through technology that streamlines guest and operational processes, forming a seamless technological experience for all digital interactions with the brand.
Before joining Zaxby’s, Mike served as Papa John’s Chief Digital and Technology Officer as well as their first-ever Chief Operating and Growth Officer. Mike also played the role of Chief Architect while working with Panera to enable their industry-leading Panera 2.0 digital transformation efforts. In addition to several other entrepreneurial pursuits, Mike was also the co-founder of eMac Digital, McDonald’s joint venture focused on enabling innovation and development efforts leading to the creation and deployment of McDonald’s first-ever global store technology platform. Mike started his restaurant career with Brinker International, where he served in a variety of IT leadership roles.
Mike resides with his wife Tracey in the Louisville, KY, area, where he enjoys spending time with family, including his new grandchildren, pursuing various hobbies, and otherwise just taking breaks away from digital pursuits to live life to its fullest.
CHIEF SUPPLY CHAIN OFFICER
Keith joined Zaxby’s in June 2020. With more than 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 originally from Lexington, KY, and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.
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 BA in political science from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctor with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER
Michelle Morgan was appointed the brand’s first Chief People Officer in April 2022, following more than 20 years with the company. Her roles ranged from front-line store cashier to various leadership positions in operations and human resources.
Michelle has been instrumental in developing and implementing standards for diversity and inclusion, talent development, corporate citizenship and guest service at Zaxby’s. In this role, she is responsible for optimizing recruitment, performance and professional development as well as elevating and reinforcing Zaxby’s culture and aligning the mission with values, decisions and commitments.
Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University and a Human Resource Management certificate from SHRM.
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Sharlene joined Zaxby’s in April 2022 and is instrumental in driving the brand’s national expansion through operational effectiveness, system improvements and people development. With more than 30 years of experience at leading restaurant concepts — including Papa John’s and McDonald’s — Sharlene is an exceptional leader who balances vision with execution. Her vast foundational experience with iconic brands in drive-thru and delivery, as well as her ability to build strong teams while scaling for growth, will be vital to the evolution of the Zaxby’s brand.
Sharlene says her passions are “helping organizations develop talent, grow revenue, and create systems for excellent service.”
Along with her restaurant experience, Sharlene holds degrees in business and finance from Towson University.
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 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.