EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
AND CO-FOUNDER, ZAXBY’S
OL / DL, OCONEE COUNT Y
BEFORE THERE WAS THE “KICKIN’ Chicken Sandwich” and Zaxby’s restaurants preading throughout the country, there was football.
Born and raised in the Georgia town of Watkinsville,
Zaxby’s Executive Vice President and Co-Founder
Tony Townley learned the strategies that have made
him and his restaurants successful while playing
football from the time he was 10 years old.
“It’s a team sport, and whether it’s work or sport
or church or anything, everybody needs to take care
of their weight in order to be successful,” Townley
said. “Whether that’s scoring a touchdown or getting
a high return on your investment, everybody’s got to
communicate and do their part and not let their fellow
team member or employees down.”
A tackle on the offensive and defensive lines,
Townley’s days of football ended when he attended
Georgia Southern University in 1980 after graduating
from Oconee County High School.
He and longtime pal Zach McElroy launched
Zaxby’s in Statesboro, Georgia, in 1990 and the
business has boomed over the past decade, covering
more than 16 states, mainly around the southeast but
as far west as Utah. Townley’s seen his restaurants
expand with strategies that he and Zaxby’s executives
have laid out from the beginning, another trait he
learned as a member of a football team.
“It starts at the top with the coach or quarterback
Coaches couldn’t take part in offseason workouts
and that communication rolls downhill,” Townley said.
“Whether it’s in the huddle or at the conference table,
everybody understands the goal and everybody has to
Townley noted that the sport added an intrinsic
discipline in his days of football, as the sport wasn’t
nearly as year-round as it has become.
or conditioning programs, it was up to individuals or
team leaders to follow through.
As for what’s made Zaxby’s such a success, beside
the food, it all comes down to the X’s and O’s of the
“It’s a playbook, really,” Townley said. “Our strategic
plan is just a big playbook and if you don’t have that
then nobody knows what they’re doing. Are you passing the ball or running the ball? Left side or right side?
You know, nobody knows, so our strategic plan is our
football playbook, if you will.” –Ryne Dennis