Read on to learn more about the team behind the indescribably good chicken.
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 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.
As Chairman he continues to cast 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 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.
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.
Chief Marketing Officer
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.
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.
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 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.
Chief Supply Chain Officer
Keith joined Zaxby’s in June 2020. 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 originally from Lexington, KY and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.