Veteran Restaurateur Joins Zaxby’s Flock; Leads Significant Expansion for Chain in Eastern Virginia

Zaxby’s has signed a multi-unit development agreement with Hoozax Foods, Inc. to open 32 Zaxby’s restaurants in the Norfolk and Richmond, Va. areas within the next seven years. Based in Suwanee, Ga., Hoozax Foods, Inc., is led by Duane Hoover and son Carl Hoover, successful entrepreneurs with past experience in multi-unit franchises. The partnership will make Hoozax Foods, Inc. one of Zaxby’s largest franchisees.

Duane Hoover has more than 40 years’ experience in franchising, having been one of the first Wendy’s franchisees in the early 1970s. He owned nearly 100 Wendy’s locations at one time.

“I became involved with Wendy’s during the early years of Dave Thomas’ leadership and had the good fortune of experiencing the brand’s growth. I think Zaxby’s is poised for that same explosive growth,” said Hoover. “I’ve been in this business a long time and understand what works for a brand.”

“Duane shares Zaxby’s vision for the brand and brings with him added knowledge of the industry that will fuel our continued expansion plans,” said CEO and co-founder Zach McLeroy, who noted Hoover believes the key to success as a franchisee is finding a brand that is committed to excellence in every aspect of operations.

“I was drawn by the spirit of dedication the Zaxby’s team has. They strive to provide the best food, served by the best people,” said Hoover. “Zaxby’s has a great formula, strong leadership and a dynamic licensee community that helps them achieve unparalleled success in their category.”

Zaxby’s, a Southeast favorite for chicken fingers and Buffalo wings, is a pioneer of the quick-casual format, providing services and amenities that fall somewhere between fast food and a sit-down restaurant. The chain currently operates more than 550 locations in 12 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Currently, there are three Zaxby’s locations in Virginia — one each in Roanoke, Salem and Williamsburg. Hoover plans to develop 15 restaurants in the Richmond area and 17 restaurants in the Tidewater region comprised of Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News.

Hoover and his family have been long-time guests of the popular southeast chicken chain and are counting down the days until their first location opens.

“It’s a pivotal time for the brand and we are thrilled to begin this partnership,” said Hoover. “We can’t wait to start selling some chicken.”

An alternative to fast food, Zaxby’s offers its guests prepared-at-order Chicken Fingerz, Jumbo Buffalo Wings, sandwiches, Zalads and Zappetizers, along with a variety of nine sauces ranging from Wimpy and Tongue Torch to Nuclear and Insane. Childhood friends Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley hatched the Athens, Ga.-based chain in 1990 to provide a fun, relaxing atmosphere that would keep guests coming back for more. Zaxby’s operates more than 550 locations in 12 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. For more information, visit