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Così Inc. chief executive resigns

James Hyatt says he is leaving the fast-casual company due to personal reasons

Così Inc. chief executive James Hyatt has resigned, citing personal reasons, the company said Wednesday.

Così’s chairman of the board, Mark Demilio, will serve as interim chief executive while the fast-casual operator and franchisor of 138 restaurants searches for Hyatt’s replacement.

“I am proud of our accomplishments over the last four years and believe the efforts we have made to focus the company on driving traffic and sales … will continue to gain traction and set the table for growth,” Hyatt said.

“My decision to leave was driven by personal considerations, as I was recently approached with an opportunity that will enable me to remain with my family in Atlanta,” he said.

Così is based in Deerfield, Ill.

Così was among the publicly traded companies hit hardest by the recession and slow recovery. At one point, it faced delisting from the NASDAQ exchange because its share price had traded below $1 for too long.

For fiscal year 2010, Così recorded a net loss of $3.1 million, or 6 cents per share. Net losses in the first and second quarters of 2011 were $2.1 million and $634,000, respectively.

The brand had gained some same-store sales momentum heading into this year, but has struggled to maintain it. Same-store sales rose 2.4 percent for fiscal year 2010, but those results narrowed to a 1.7-percent increase in the first quarter of 2011 and a 0.2-percent decline in the second quarter.

Hyatt will remain with Così until Sept. 23 and aid the company’s transition.

Così operates 80 locations and franchises another 58 units in 17 states, the District of Columbia and the United Arab Emirates.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN

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