- The fast-food chicken restaurant chain Zaxby’s named Donny Lau, most recently a senior executive at discount retailer Dollar General and previously a leader at fast-food giant Yum Brands — as its new CFO, effective Tuesday, according to a Monday company release. He succeeds Blake Bailey, who had previously left the Athens, Georgia-based company, according to a March 15 report in The Oconee Enterprise, a newspaper in Oconee County, Georgia.
Lau’s arrival is the latest in a series of top executive changes since early 2022 when Bernard Acoca, the former CEO of the El Pollo Loco chicken chain, became the company’s first external CEO, taking over for co-founder and then CEO Zach McLeroy, who had led the company since its inception in 1990, according to a company release at the time.
"Donny's proven track record in driving financial growth in QSR and retail organizations, implementing effective strategies and navigating complex financial landscapes makes him a perfect fit for Zaxby's as we embark on our next phase of growth and expansion," Acoca stated in Monday’s release.
In addition to the movement in the C-suite, the fast-growing privately-held chicken chain has amped up its strategy in recent years.
Back in 2020 the company announced that the Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division would acquire a significant stake in Zaxby’s, according to a press release.
The partnership was expected to accelerate growth and help it expand beyond its regional roots to become a national and potentially an international chain, Industry Dive sister publication Restaurant Dive previously reported.
The Oconee Enterprise report also stated that Zaxby’s was planning to move its headquarters from Athens to metro-Atlanta by the beginning of 2024.
Lau has held senior roles in both the finance departments of large public companies as well as in investment banking.
Early in his career he was vice president of investment banking at the wealth management and capital market firm Morgan Keegan & Company, according to his LinkedIn account.
Later in 2011, he started out at Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum Brands as manager of mergers and acquisitions and went on to hold a number of other roles, including senior director and head of investor relations and senior director and head of financial planning and analysis.
Most recently he was chief strategy officer at Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General, which he joined in 2017.
A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Bailey’s departure. Zaxby’s now has more than 900 locations across 17 states, according to the release.