New World Restaurant Group, Inc. (Pink sheets: NWCI) today announced the death of Max Craig, the company’s Chief Financial Officer.

Mr. Craig, 48, had joined the company in June. He passed away on Saturday, October 19, while horseback riding near his home in Littleton, Colo. Cause of death has not yet been determined.

“To say that we will miss Max does not begin to describe how much he has meant to me and the people with whom he worked,” said Anthony Wedo, New World Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Max had demonstrated remarkable talent, effort and determination since he joined our company. These strengths do not begin to capture the true character, warmth and compassion he exhibited day after day, no matter how challenging the circumstances. Max cared deeply about building our company into a highly successful and respected organization.”

Prior to joining New World, Mr. Craig had been Chief Financial Officer of the Taco Bell Corporation unit of PepsiCo. Inc/Tricon Global Restaurants. He joined Pepsico Food Systems’ finance department in 1980 and rose to Senior Director, Finance. In 1987, he moved to the Taco Bell unit as Vice President, Business Planning and subsequently held Vice President positions in Development and Acquisitions/Divestitures, before being appointed CFO. He began his career in 1977 in the finance department of Ford Motor Company. Mr. Craig held a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., and an MBA in Finance from the University of Kansas.

Mr. Craig is survived by his wife Diana; three grown children, Kimberly Wine, Stephanie, and Jeffrey, and a grandson, Michael.