Leadership

Taco John’s names Heather Neary CEO

Neary spent 15 years with Auntie Anne’s and most recently served as brand president at quick-service franchisee KBP Brands. She’s charged with ushering in a “new era of growth” at the Mexican fast-food chain.
Heather Neary
Heather Neary is the new CEO at Taco John's. | Photo courtesy: Taco John's.

Mexican fast-food chain Taco John’s on Wednesday named industry veteran Heather Neary as its next CEO, replacing Jim Creel, who retired at the end of last year.

Neary, who spent 15 years with Auntie Anne’s, working her way up to brand president, will be charged with ushering in a “new era of growth” at Cheyenne, Wyoming-based Taco John’s.

“Heather’s strategic vision, energy and proven track record of driving growth, customer experience metrics and brand presence at the national franchise level made her the unmatched choice to lead Taco John’s to the next level of expansion and success,” Board Chairman Gerard Lewis said in a statement.

Most recently, Neary served as brand president of KBP Brands, a franchisee of more than 800 quick-service restaurants.

At Auntie Anne’s, Neary helped grow gross sales to over $550 million during her five-year tenure as brand president, while also working to streamline operations and create a collaborative, “people-first” culture, Taco John’s noted.

Neary has also been active with the International Franchise Association and has served on the board of directors for the National Restaurant Association and the Women’s Foodservice Forum.

“Taco John’s has built a rich history and a passionate following around delicious food, innovation and a commitment to excellence,” Neary said. “I am honored to join this motivated and talented team at such an exciting time in the company’s journey.”

Founded in 1969, Taco John’s currently operates and franchises nearly 400 restaurants in 23 states.

Under Creel, Taco John’s said its average unit volumes increased 22% during his six-year tenure as CEO, with system sales up 17% during that time, to $424 million.

The chain is in the midst of expanding throughout the Midwest, as well as in existing territories and other areas.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Financing

Red Lobster gives private equity another black eye

The Bottom Line: The role a giant sale-leaseback had in the bankruptcy filing of the seafood chain has drawn more criticism of the investment firms' financial engineering. The criticism is well-earned.

Financing

Beverage chains are taking off as consumers shift their drink preferences

The Bottom Line: Some of the fastest-growing chains in the U.S. push drinks, even as sales at traditional concepts lag in growing delivery and takeout business. How can traditional restaurants get in on the action?

Financing

Brands need to think creatively as the industry heads into a value war

The Bottom Line: Giving customers meal options they can afford will be key to generating traffic this year. But make sure those offers can generate a profit.

Trending

More from our partners