Industry News | December 12, 2011

Brinker President Chosen as New Cosi CEO

Carin L. Stutz is the new CEO of Cosi.
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Fast-casual sandwich concept Così, Inc. (NASDAQ: COSI) hired Carin L. Stutz as the company’s new CEO and president beginning January 1. She also will join the Così Board of Directors.

“Carin is a proven leader with deep operational, marketing and business development experience,” says Michael O’Donnell, CEO of Ruth’s Hospitality Group and a member of the Così board and search committee.

“She is a respected leader with a track record of innovative strategic brand building, and an impressive record of accomplishment, having held leadership positions at several of our industry's leading companies. Her energetic leadership and broad perspective will drive our company forward.”

Stutz, 55, joins Così from full-service restaurant leader Brinker International (NYSE: EAT) where she was president of global business development, leading all aspects of franchise development and operations for 240 Chili’s and Maggiano’s restaurants around the globe.

Before joining Brinker, Stutz was executive vice president of operations for Applebee’s International Inc. (NYSE: DIN). She oversaw more than 1,900 company-owned and franchise restaurants in 49 states.

Before Applebee’s, she held vice president positions with Wendy's, Sodexo, and NutriSystem. 

Stutz has a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Illinois University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Mid America Nazarene University. She is the chair of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, a leading organization in the food service industry dedicated to developing gender-diverse leadership talent.

"I am thrilled at the opportunity to lead this talented management team and help build a great future for the Così brand, our employees, franchise owners, and all who invest in our success," Stutz says. "My mission is to energize the Così brand and the guest experience.”

In conjunction with the appointment of the new CEO, the company announced that Board of Directors member Stephen F. Edwards assumes the role of executive chair on January 1. Edwards will work with the company’s management team to refine the long-term strategic plan, explore opportunities to raise capital and communicate with various external constituencies, and will serve as a liaison between management and the board. 

"On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Mark Demilio for his leadership as interim CEO through this transition and look forward to continuing to work with him as a member of the Board of Directors," Edwards says.