Health reasons force top Cosi exec to resign

by Eric Schroeder
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DEERFIELD, ILL. — Cosi, Inc., a national convenience restaurant chain that has developed foods built around a flatbread, announced its chief executive officer has resigned due to health reasons. Kevin Armstrong had been c.e.o. since July 2003, having earlier worked as president and chief operating officer of Long John Silver’s. Cosi’s board of directors has named Robert Merritt, a Cosi director and the former longtime chief financial officer of Outback Steakhouse, as interim c.e.o., effective immediately.

A committee has been engaged to start a national search to hire a permanent c.e.o. to fulfill Cosi’s vision for a national premium convenience restaurant and to continue leading the company on its current strategic course.

"We are saddened by the news that Kevin cannot continue his duties and wish him and his family the best," said William D. Forrest, chairman. "His departure does not change Cosi’s strong strategic position or direction. In recent years our board has succeeded in attracting a senior team of highly experienced restaurant industry executives, ensuring that our organization can and will continue executing Cosi’s development and operational plans.

"Bob Merritt knows Cosi, he has helped shape our growth plans, and his accomplishments with Outback command deep respect throughout the restaurant industry and franchisee community. He has the full confidence of the board and Cosi’s senior management team to maintain Cosi’s momentum as we conduct our search."

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