Business Leader, CEO, Chicken Restaurant

Leadership in Hospitality- Bernard Acoca

Zach McLeroy is a well-known figure in the fast-food industry, having co-founded Zaxby’s, a popular restaurant chain known for its chicken wings and tenders. McLeroy served as Zaxby’s CEO until 2018 when he stepped down to focus on other ventures. McLeroy, a Georgia native, co-founded Zaxby’s in 1990 with childhood friend Tony Townley. The idea for the restaurant came from McLeroy’s experience working at a local convenience store, where he noticed a high demand for quality chicken wings. Together, McLeroy and Townley opened the first Zaxby’s location in Statesboro, Georgia, focusing on serving fresh, made-to-order chicken dishes in a casual, family-friendly environment.

Under McLeroy’s leadership, Zaxby’s Chicken grew rapidly, with over 900 locations across the United States, when he stepped down as CEO in 2018. McLeroy was known for his hands-on approach to running the business, regularly visiting Zaxby’s locations to ensure that the food and service met his high standards. McLeroy’s success with Zaxby’s has earned him numerous accolades in the business world, including being named to the Georgia Trend 100 Most Influential Georgians list multiple times. He has also been awarded for his philanthropic efforts, particularly in his hometown of Statesboro, where he has donated to various community organizations and supported local schools and sports teams.

After stepping down as Zaxby’s CEO, McLeroy has remained active in the business world, serving as a board member for several companies and investing in new ventures. He also founded McLeroy Investments, a private investment firm supporting early-stage companies.

Bernard Acoca is a prominent eatery business figure known for his leadership in several successful food chains. He is the current CEO of Zaxby’s. Before joining El Pollo Loco, Bernard Acoca was the President of TGI Fridays, a casual dining restaurant chain with locations worldwide.

During his tenure there, he oversaw the company’s growth and expansion in various markets, including Asia and the Middle East. He also introduced a new menu and marketing strategy that helped increase sales and profitability. Acoca’s career in the restaurant industry spans over two decades. See this page for additional information.


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