US-based quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain Taco John’s has announced the appointment of Heather Neary as its new president and CEO. 

Neary, who has more than two decades of experience in the restaurant industry, brand leadership and franchise operations, steps into the role following the retirement of Taco John’s former CEO Jim Creel.  

Neary’s appointment comes as the restaurant chain, which currently has 400 restaurants across 23 US states, embarks on an ambitious expansion strategy.  

She is expected to accelerate the expansion of Taco John’s across the Midwest region of the US and beyond.  

The restaurant chain is planning further locations in its current and new territories.

Taco John’s International board of directors chairman Gerard Lewis said: “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.” 

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Neary recently served as the brand president at QSR franchisee KBP Brands. Her career in the foodservice industry began with Auntie Anne’s, where she became brand president.  

During her tenure, she oversaw significant growth, with gross sales exceeding $550m.  

Neary’s leadership at KBP Brands demonstrated her ability to steer companies through periods of expansion, enhancing profitability and stability. 

Her background includes pivotal roles in industry associations, including her active participation in the International Franchise Association. She has held positions on the board of directors of the National Restaurant Association and the Women’s Foodservice Forum.  

She also contributes her expertise to the board of directors of the Essential Property Realty Trust and the board of advisors for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. 

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