At Così, No Worry About Too Many Chefs


Despite six chief executives since going public in 2002, Così Inc. had yet to make a dime of profit. So when the sandwich chain picked its seventh CEO in a decade this year, directors decided to hedge their bets.

For CEO, they chose Carin L. Stutz, a restaurant-industry veteran from Chili’s owner Brinker International Inc.  And to help her craft a turnaround plan, the board named its newest member – longtime investment manager Stephen F. Edwards – as executive chairman, a salaried post with management and board duties. Both began Jan. 1.

Such power-sharing arrangements involving independent directors are rare. The heads of several rival restaurant chains warned Ms. Stutz about the difficulties of having two sets of hands on the steering wheel.

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