The chair of Cypress-based Real Mex Restaurants Inc.’s board of directors has stepped in as interim chief executive while the company searches for a permanent replacement.

Former Chief Executive David Goronkin resigned from the company last week, according to a Real Mex spokesman.

Chris Thomas, Real Mex board chair, is filling the top spot while the search is under way.

Real Mex would like to “fill the position as soon as possible, assuming the right candidate has been found,” the spokesman said.

Goronkin joined the company in June, charged with steering the company amid declining sales in a tough operating environment for many restaurant chains.

Real Mex operates 132 Mexican-inspired restaurant chains, including El Torito, El Torito Grill, Chevys Fresh Mex and Acapulco.

A group of creditors, led by Santa Monica-based investment manager Tennenbaum Capital Partners LLC, JP Morgan Investment Management Inc. in New York and Lake Forest, Ill.-based Z Capital Partners LLC, bought Real Mex out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a deal that closed in March.

The company is in the midst of a turnaround, focused on menu changes, restaurant updates and other improvements at its core brands El Torito, Chevys and Acapulco.