Church's Chicken® Recognizes Top Market Leaders, Restaurant Managers of the Year
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Church's Chicken® Recognizes Top Market Leaders, Restaurant Managers of the Year

The Brand Celebrates Outstanding Individual Performance During Its Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX

ATLANTA - Oct. 10, 2018 // PRNewswire // - During its annual Excellence in Leadership Conference in San Antonio, TX, Church's Chicken®, one of the largest fried chicken restaurant chains in the world, acknowledged its top-performing employees for their year-long commitments to excellence and achievement. As part of a system-wide awards presentation given at the conference, over 40 employees were recognized. Two of the biggest awards bestowed during the event's gala dinner were Market Leaders of the Year - Ray Akers of Odessa, TX for franchise restaurants and Juan Zapata of Harlingen, TX, for company restaurants; and Restaurant Managers of the Year, going to Deborah Jackson of Albany, GA for company restaurants and Giovanni Pita of Phoenix, AZ, for franchise restaurants.

"With these awards, we want to honor the individuals that have made significant and sustaining contributions to our brand," said Church's Chicken Executive Vice President of U.S. Operations, Peter Servold. "Our teams and especially our general managers, have had a lot on their plates lately as the brand continues to evolve and they have achieved excellence on all fronts."

Each of the winners' dedication to excellence in their daily routines were captured on a personal and inspirational video, which played during the awards ceremonies as the winners walked up to the stage to receive their awards.

"The thing that they all have in common is that they all are committed to all of the tools and the operating systems that Church's Chicken provides. "That commitment is a quality they all share - and it's a direct reflection of how fully engaged they are with their businesses. Their results are proof that the system works when we all work together," added Servold.

Market Leaders of the Year

  • Ray Akers
    Franchise Market Leader of the Year, Odessa, TX
    Ray Akers, who has been promoted to Zone Director of Operations for the Ampler Group, is known for strongly believing in people, for being a big supporter and motivator of his team, and for "never letting grass grow under his feet" when it comes to accomplishing goals and initiatives. He is also described as energetic, enthusiastic, a team player, and looking "tough on the outside but being very caring in the inside." Known as a positive role model and credited for putting his market on the map, Ray is also popular for exceeding expectations. His inspirations are his son and daughter. "I get a lot of joy out of seeing individuals be the best they can be - take care of your people, develop your team, watch them win, and you'll just be along for the ride."
  • Juan Zapata
    Company Market Leader of the Year, Harlingen, Texas
    Juan Zapata has been a part of the Church's brand for 40 years. Described by colleagues as loyal, tough but fair, dedicated, patient, possessing integrity, and being a great coach and leader who is always there for everyone, Juan has moved up the ranks through different positions, up to his current title as a Market Leader. Humor is another quality he is known for, and he makes work "exciting" for his team. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the strong team I have," said Juan. "This is thanks to all of the hard work that they do."

Restaurant General Managers of the Year

  • Deborah Jackson
    Company Restaurant General Manager of the Year, Albany, Georgia
    Deborah Jackson has been with Church's for over a decade. Described by colleagues as a mentor, in addition to being a manager; she is incredibly selfless, dedicated, loving, caring and the "momma of the team." Not only has Debra made a difference in the Church's family, but she is very involved in her community as well. So much so, that the Mayor of Albany presented her with a key to the city earlier this year. Her inspiration is her family. "By my working hard and having a great team behind me, we made it! We made it to the stage!" said Debra.
  • Giovanni Pita
    Franchise Restaurant General Manager of the Year, Phoenix, Arizona
    Giovanni Pita works hands-on with restaurants to improve team training, enhance guest experience, and streamline operations in the large Phoenix, Arizona market. Described as someone that can always be called upon to help and an extraordinary manager, Giovanni is known for his persistence, a can-do-attitude, an even-keel demeanor, politeness and professionalism. As with the other award winners, Giovanni's inspiration comes from his family, specifically his daughter and wife. "I tell all RGMs that if they work hard and motivate their teams, even when no one is watching, they can be the next RGM of the year," said Giovanni.

About Church's Chicken®

Founded in San Antonio, TX in 1952 by George W. Church, Church's Chicken® is one of the largest quick service restaurant chicken chains in the world. Church's® specializes in Original and Spicy Chicken freshly prepared throughout the day in small batches that are hand-battered and double-breaded, Tender Strips®, honey-butter biscuits made from scratch and freshly baked, and classic, home-style sides all for a great value. Church's® (along with its sister brand Texas Chicken® outside the Americas) has more than 1,500 locations in 23 countries and international territories and system-wide sales of more than $1 billion. For more information, visit Follow Church's® on Facebook at and Twitter at


Kim Miller

SOURCE Church's Chicken



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