Our values and vision start with our leadership. Read on to learn more about the team behind the chicken.
Zach is our one and only. He’s been our one and only CEO since the Zaxby’s concept began. In fact, he and childhood friend Tony Townley dreamed up Zaxby’s in the first place. The two came up with the idea for an upbeat, fun, relaxing place that served terrific chicken. Now, more than a decade later, the chain is flourishing and poised to grow beyond anyone’s expectations. And it’s Zach’s vision that keeps us on that phenomenal growth track today. Passionately committed to this vision, Zach even put his burgeoning music career on hold, selling his beloved drum set in order to open the first store. As more and more Zaxby’s fans are won over every day, we can be grateful that Zach traded in one set of drumsticks for another. Zach is a stockholder in more than 100 Zaxby’s restaurants. An Athens, Georgia, native, Zach is also an alumnus of the University of Georgia in Athens. When he isn’t evangelizing for Zaxby’s, he’s relaxing with his wife and three children. He also loves hitting the links and the slopes. Asked to pick his absolute favorite Zaxby’s menu item, he hesitates like a man asked to choose his favorite child. "Since I have to approve every single item," he says, "I like it all. But if I have to pick, I’d go with the Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich, because anything messy is usually good."
Along with childhood pal Zach McLeroy, Tony Townley is one of the "founding fathers" of Zaxby's. As he was from the very earliest days, Tony is responsible for the overall fiscal health of the company. He has plenty of experience doing that, as a former CEO for Southern Mortgage & Lending Corporation, and a mortgage originator for First Federal Savings & Loan and the Bank of Georgia. For more than two decades, Tony has also served as the secretary and accounting manager for Townley's Christmas Tree Farm, one of Georgia's largest Christmas tree farms. Tony holds a bachelor's degree in management from Georgia Southern College and is a charter member of APICS, the American Production Inventory Control Society. Personally dedicated to the Zaxby's vision, Tony is a stockholder in more than 100 Zaxby's restaurants. When he isn't enjoying time with his wife, three sons and daughter, Tony can be found taking in a good movie, fishing, hunting, or enjoying other outdoor activities. He's a nice man, but not if you try to take a bite of his Zaxby's Kickin' Chicken Sandwich — it’s Tony's absolute fave.
Originally from Camden, SC, Robert Baxley attended the University of South Carolina and earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Valdosta State University. He began his career with ZAX 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. In 1994, the company began franchising and changed its name to Zaxby’s, upon which time he was named the Chief Operating Officer and serves in that capacity today. From 1995 through 2007, Robert was also a successful multiunit operator of 21 Zaxby’s locations throughout South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Robert is a living example of his own motto that he instills in each member of the brand “Growth through the development of people.” He credits his success to surrounding himself with great talent and providing them the opportunity to grow. Staying focused on faith and family are core values he lives by. When he isn’t helping people grow or doting on his wife and college sweetheart, Mandy, and their two children, Wyman and Loy Brynne, he enjoys golfing, working out and coaching youth sports. After all these years, his favorite menu item is still the Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich because he insists that it was named for his beloved South Carolina fighting Gamecocks.
Blake came to Zaxby’s Franchising, Inc., in August 2000 from Smithfield foods in Virginia. He began his career with Zaxby’s as a corporate controller when Zaxby’s consisted of 85 restaurants. He has been instrumental in building the financial infrastructure that supports this rapidly growing franchise system. In 2012, Blake received the title of Chief Financial Officer, for his leadership, innovation and genuine desire to make a difference. He serves on the board of Downtown Ministries, Inc., in Athens. In his spare time, you can find Blake busy at home with his wife and four children. They reside in Colbert, Georgia and love the outdoors. He is an avid snowboarder and musician.