Cosi’s new chief focused on simplicity

Carin Stutz, Cosi’s new chief executive, brings more than 30 years of restaurant experience and an abundance of enthusiasm to her new role, both critical attributes in the coming year.

The Deerfield-based sandwich chain has been reporting quarterly losses as fast-casual competitors such as St. Louis-based Panera Bread Co. have been gaining. Cosi’s stock has traded below $1 on the Nasdaq for much of 2011, and the company has been threatened with a delisting.

Those troubles attracted the attention of Brad Blum, an industry veteran and one of the chain’s largest shareholders, earlier this year. Not long after Cosi’s previous CEO, James Hyatt, stepped down in August following the Nasdaq threat, Blum offered to step into the CEO role and provide additional capital to the chain.

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