Vegetables, pizza part of menu makeover at Cosi

by Eric Schroeder
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DEERFIELD, ILL. — Like its strategy in regards to restaurant redesign, Cosi, Inc. is attempting to become more “inviting” across all day parts in its menu innovation, said Carin Stutz, president and chief executive officer, in a March 14 conference call with financial analysts.

To accomplish the task, Ms. Stutz said Cosi, which operates more than 100 restaurants in 16 states and the District of Columbia, continues to “accent everything fresh, with an emphasis on healthier and hearth baked items.”

“We have become more vegetable-centric, taking advantage of the growing seasons to bring the freshest produce to our guests, and of course we will continue to offer our flatbread, baked from scratch throughout the day, and our premium made-to-order sandwiches, soups and hand-tossed salads for which Cosi is so well-known.”

Cosi in January added to its menu with a new category — fresh Cosi bowls with fewer than 500 calories. Ms. Stutz said the bowls, which are built on hearth-baked rice and hearth-roasted vegetables, are off to a “terrific start.” The restaurant chain is serving the new bowls not only to lunch guests, but a large percentage of dinner guests, she said.

As Cosi continues to open new and redesigned restaurants customers also will be presented another menu option: handcrafted hearth-fired pizzas.

“Both the Cosi bowls and the new pizza are great examples of maximizing our existing cooking platforms, obviously primarily our hearth ovens, to introduce popular menu items that can expand our reach into another day part, as well as potentially adding to our catering and our take-out business,” Ms. Stutz said.

In the year ended Dec. 31, 2012, Cosi suffered a loss of $4,441,000, which compared with a loss of $6,539,000 in fiscal 2011. Net revenues for the year totaled $97,952,000, down from $102,135,000 in fiscal 2011.
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