Zaxby’s Taps Former Papa John’s Int’l. Exec As COO

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Sharlene Smith will assume the COO position at Zaxby's on April 25. Courtesy of Zaxby's.

Atlanta-based Zaxby’s has hired restaurant industry veteran Sharlene Smith as COO as it plans to ramp up expansion.

Smith brings over three decades of operational experience within the restaurant industry and franchising to the role. Most recently, she served as vice president of operations excellence for North America at Papa John’s Int’l., where she was responsible for operations for 3,000 locations. Before then, she spent the bulk of her career at McDonald’s Corp. in field leadership positions.

In her new role with Zaxby’s, she will help drive the company’s national expansion through operational effectiveness, system improvements and people development.

“Given that culture and quality have always been hallmarks of our brand, we needed an exceptional leader who has demonstrated capabilities for operational excellence as well as a passion for people,” says Bernard Acoca, Zaxby’s CEO, in a press release. “Sharlene is an executive who balances vision with execution, and that makes her ideally suited to help accelerate our growth.”

Founded in 1990, Zaxby’s has more than 900 locations in 17 states.

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