Return to search

PE-backed Real Mex recruits Lockwood as CEO and president

Mexican restaurant chain Real Mex Restaurants has named Bryan Lockwood as CEO. The appointment is effective immediately. Previously, Lockwood worked at Tavistock Restaurants where he served as CEO and President. Real Mex is a portfolio company of Z Capital Partners LLC and Tennenbaum Capital Partners LLC.


CYPRESS, Calif., March 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Real Mex Restaurants (“Real Mex” or the “Company”), the largest full service, casual dining Mexican restaurant chain in the United States, today announced that Bryan Lockwood has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.

Mr. Lockwood is a proven executive with extensive operational expertise in the restaurant industry. Prior to joining Real Mex, he served for a decade in the roles of Chief Executive Officer and President of Tavistock Restaurants, a company he co-founded in 2003. During his time at Tavistock Restaurants, Mr. Lockwood grew annual revenues to $300 million while overseeing operations of 13 upscale restaurant concepts and approximately 7,000 employees. In his more than 35 years in the restaurant industry, Mr. Lockwood has served in a variety of roles including as an executive, advisor, principal, investor, franchisor, and franchisee.

“I am pleased to have someone of Bryan’s caliber lead Real Mex during this exciting phase of growth for the Company,” said James J. Zenni, Chairman of Real Mex and President and Chief Executive Officer of Z Capital Partners. “Bryan brings extensive industry knowledge and valuable operational experience, as well as a proven track record of overseeing the successful turnaround and growth of various restaurant brands. Under Bryan’s leadership, I am confident that the Company will continue to successfully build out our premier brands and further execute on our transformational strategy to drive growth and profitability. I look forward to capitalizing on Bryan’s unparalleled expertise to elevate Real Mex to new heights for the benefit of all our constituents, including our valued customers.”

Mr. Lockwood commented, “I am extremely honored to join Real Mex at such an important time in the Company’s history. Real Mex has an impressive portfolio of leading brands, and I look forward to getting started and working closely with this talented team to build on the Company’s momentum.”

Real Mex is a portfolio company of Z Capital Partners, L.L.C. and Tennenbaum Capital Partners, LLC.

About Bryan Lockwood
Bryan Lockwood is a 35-year restaurant and hospitality industry veteran. Most recently, Mr. Lockwood founded Rare One, LLC., his personal restaurant investment company. From 2003 to 2013, he served first as President and then as Chief Executive Officer of Tavistock Restaurants, a company that he co-founded. Mr. Lockwood was directly responsible for Tavistock Restaurant’s portfolio of upscale restaurant concepts in the U.S., which include Abe & Louie’s, Atlantic Fish, Aquaknox, Blackhawk Grille, Cafe del Rey, California Cafe, Canonita, Coach Grill, Joe’s American Bar & Grill, Napa Valley Grille, Sapporo and ZED451. He also led growth initiatives such as the acquisitions of Back Bay Restaurant Group and E-Brands Restaurants as well as the acquisition and expansion of fast-casual brand, Freebirds World Burrito. During his time at Tavistock Restaurants, Mr. Lockwood successfully grew the business to $300 million in annual revenues through the acquisition and turnaround of brands that had been through bankruptcy as well as organic growth.

Prior to co-founding Tavistock Restaurants, Mr. Lockwood established and served as an advisor at Lockwood Advisory Partners from 1997 to 2003, providing financial and operational advisory services to a number of industry-specific institutions, including Houlihan’s, J. Gilbert’s Wood Fired Grill, CNL Restaurant REIT, Denny’s, TGI Friday’s, Sheraton and Holiday Inn, among others. He previously served on the advisory Boards of Le Cordon Bleu, Art Institute and Tournament Players Club.

About Real Mex Restaurants
Real Mex Restaurants is the largest full-service, casual dining Mexican restaurant chain operator in the United States with 112 company-owned and operated restaurants, as well as 13 franchised restaurants. Headquartered in Cypress, California, Real Mex’s brands include: El Torito Restaurants, Acapulco Mexican Restaurants, Chevys Fresh Mex® Restaurants, El Torito Grill Restaurants, Las Brisas Restaurant in Laguna Beach, CA, Sinigual Restaurant in New York City, El Paso Cantina in Torrance, CA and the company’s latest brand introduction, Who Song and Larry’s in Orange, CA. For more information, please visit

About Z Capital Partners
Z Capital Partners, L.L.C. is a leading private equity firm with approximately $1.9 billion of regulatory assets under management and with offices in Lake Forest, IL and New York, NY. Z Capital pursues a value-oriented approach in private equity that includes making control investments in companies that may require growth capital, balance sheet and or operational improvements.

Z Capital portfolio companies currently have aggregate worldwide annual revenues of approximately $1.5 billion, sell products in over 30 countries, and have in excess of 190,000 associates directly and through joint ventures.

Z Capital’s investors include prominent global sovereign wealth funds, endowments, pension funds, insurance companies, foundations, family offices, wealth management firms and other financial institutions in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. For more information, please visit

About Tennenbaum Capital Partners, LLC
Tennenbaum Capital Partners, LLC (“TCP”) is a Los Angeles-based alternative investment management firm focused on performing credit and special situations for middle-market companies. TCP manages a publicly-traded business development company, TCP Capital Corp. (NASDAQ: TCPC), as well as other funds and accounts. Since its founding, TCP has invested more than $14.5 billion in over 380 companies. For more information, please visit: and