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This is Zaxby's first external CEO.

Former El Pollo Loco CEO Bernard Acoca named CEO of Zaxby’s

The former El Pollo Loco CEO will take on the role in January, and Zaxby’s founder Zach McLeroy will transition to a chairman role

Former El Pollo Loco CEO Bernard Acoca has been appointed the CEO of Zaxby’s less than two weeks after resigning from his former company. Zaxby’s founder Zach McLeroy will transition to chairman of the company in Jan. 2022 after more than 30 years at the helm of the Georgia-based chicken and sandwich brand.

"I am humbled by the success Zaxby's has experienced since my cofounder and I launched the company three decades ago," Zach McLeroy, CEO and cofounder of Zaxby's said in a statement. "Earlier this year, I decided that the best way to capitalize on the enormous opportunities available to Zaxby's was to bring in the brand's first external CEO. We have been engaged in a CEO search to find someone with the strategic, operational, and marketing expertise to accelerate Zaxby's growth and lead our national expansion. We're thrilled to have identified Bernard Acoca, a respected industry leader, to guide our future success. I wholeheartedly believe Bernard is committed to growing our business while preserving the best of our heritage and culture."

Acoca has been brought in to grow the brand, while McLeroy will stay on to serve as a guide of the company’s heritage.

Prior to joining Zaxby’s, Acoca spent just under three years as CEO of Pollo Loco, where he helped lead the company’s digital e-commerce growth, and before that, held leadership positions at multiple retail companies both in and outside of foodservice, including multiple executive roles at Starbucks and CMO of L’Oreal. He also spent 10 years at Yum brands.

"Zach has built the Zaxby's brand into more than just a quick-service chicken chain,” Acoca said in a statement. “He has found the secret to success is serving our communities quality food, providing team members with opportunity, creating a definable culture of service, and collaborating with strategic partners to grow the brand to new heights. I am thrilled to be joining Zaxby's at this exciting milestone, and I look forward to working with the talented people in the Zaxby's family to build upon the brand's success."

Zaxby’s currently has 900 locations across 17 states.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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