Okeechobee Zaxby’s celebrates second anniversary

Okeechobee Zaxby’s also does catering for special events large and small. Zaxby’s meals are popular with family gatherings, graduation parties and bigger events. During the 2018 Okeechobee Music Festival, Okeechobee Zaxby’s served up 1,323 meals to festival security.

OKEECHOBEE – Zaxby’s restaurant in Okeechobee will celebrate its second anniversary next week with special promotions and celebrations.

Owner Tracy Neely said the past two years have been a learning experience for her and for the employees, and they are working hard to be a productive part of the Okeechobee community.
The restaurant currently has 22 employees; all are Okeechobee residents – most are Okeechobee natives.

Tracy said she enjoys mentoring employees, including high school students learning work skills on their first job and adult employees who are taking on new challenges and progressing within the organization.

“I enjoy mentoring, especially the students,” she said. “They are learning work ethics and the motivation to do the work.”
She said she believes it is important to give people a chance even if their resume is less than stellar.

“I give everyone a chance,” she said. “People will show if they are serious about wanting to work, about wanting to move up into the organization.

“I believe in second chances,” she added.

She encourages employees to take advantage of the opportunity to move up within the company.

Her management team includes people who probably never saw themselves as managers, she added, “I saw them as hard workers with the ability to do more.”

She said she sometimes sees potential in employees that they didn’t see in themselves.

It’s a great feeling to watch the employees step up to the challenges and progress, she added.

“It doesn’t matter the age,” Tracy said. “If someone is mature and is willing to put forth the effort toward moving forward, they should be given that chance.”

She said she loves the atmosphere in Okeechobee and the openness of the people here.

“I love the fact that the community communicates with me, when they see issues good or bad,” she said. “They talk to me when they see me. They want the restaurant to survive.

“I love that people talk to me. The good, the bad and the ugly, I want to know about anything they have to tell me about the restaurant,” she said.

“I would rather hear it than not. I can’t make things better if I don’t know.

“I appreciate the small town, how everybody cares.”

She said it took a little while for her to get used to the rapid population change during the winter tourist season.

“I knew about it. I was told about it, but you don’t really understand it until you experience it,” she said.

It took some people in Okeechobee a little while to understand the concept of Zaxby’s where the meals are prepared fresh.

Zaxby’s has a drive-thru window, but it is not a fast-food restaurant.

“When you see a drive-thru you are going to automatically think fast food,” she said. But Zaxby’s food is made fresh.

Customers didn’t understand at first that it takes a little while to make the food,” she said. Average wait time is 4 to 5 minutes, but some orders may take up to 15 minutes if there is a traditional wing order.

If you order a “zalad,” the chefs in the back are cutting up the lettuce and cucumbers, she explained.
“If we have to drop more wings, it takes time to cook them. “The traditional wing cook time is 15 minutes. We’ve trained the staff to inform guests if there will be a wait so they can decide if they want to wait for fresh wings. I strongly recommend using Zaxbys.com to avoid the wait for fresh wings,” she said.

Customers can order online at Zaxbys.com, o food will be ready to go when they arrive. Orders can be placed a week in advance.

Okeechobee customers have embraced the online ordering system, she said,

“Okeechobee is an online ordering town, which is great,” she added.

In addition to meals served in the restaurant and to go, the Okeechobee Zaxby’s also does catering for special events large and small. Zaxby’s meals are popular with family gatherings, graduation parties and bigger events. During the 2018 Okeechobee Music Festival, Okeechobee Zaxby’s served up 1,323 meals to festival security.

Zaxby’s is active in the Okeechobee Community, supplying certificates for teacher appreciation events, catering a welcome back lunch for teachers, participating in blood drives and supplying food for the emergency call center during Hurricane Irma.

Zaxby’s is a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Okeechobee County. The restaurant has participated in Okeechobee Main Street’s Taste of Okeechobee event. The restaurant has sponsored events at the Okeechobee Cattlemen’s rodeos.

Tracy said they hope to sponsor a sports team this year.

“I love to do whatever I can to help kids,” Tracy said.

To celebrate their second anniversary, the week of April 11-14, Zaxby’s has some special promotions planned. Wednesday, April 11, is “buy one zalad, get one free,” all day.

On Thursday, April 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. kids eat free with adult meal purchase. There will also be a coloring contest. The winner will receive ‘Nibblers’ for their entire class.

Friday, April 13 is Community Hero Day. EMT, firefighters, police and military will receive 25 percent off their purchases. WOKC will be at the restauarnt from noon to 2 p.m. The Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce will also be there to help celebrate the anniversary.

On Saturday, April 14, the first 50 guests with an adult purchase will receive coupons for free food items every week for a year.

Also on April 14, Zaxby’swill support the Okeechobee High School Band. The band will receive 10 percent of sales.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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