Cosi taps Hyatt as president and c.e.o.

by Eric Schroeder
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DEERFIELD, ILL. — Cosi, Inc., a national convenience restaurant chain that has developed foods built around a flatbread, has named James F. Hyatt as its president and chief executive officer and as a member of the company’s board of directors. He succeeds interim president and c.e.o. Robert Merritt, who will continue as a member of Cosi’s board. Kevin Armstrong, Cosi's c.e.o. from July 2003 to March 2007, stepped down earlier this year, citing health reasons.

Mr. Hyatt, 51, has more than 30 years of branded industry experience at all levels of corporate and franchise restaurant operations, including as a franchisee at Burger King. Most recently he was executive vice-president and global chief operations officer of Burger King Corp.

"Jim has the ideal combination of experience, skills and drive to be a highly effective leader for Cosi," said William D. Forrest, chairman. "He has a comprehensive operating background and track record of success, from the restaurant level to the global level, and from both the corporate and franchisee perspective. Jim’s appointment is another strong demonstration of Cosi’s stated commitment to focusing our company resources on supporting franchise development, which is an important key to the very attractive long-term growth potential that we believe Cosi offers for all of our stakeholders.

Mr. Hyatt was executive vice-president and global chief operations officer of Burger King since August 2005. Earlier, he was senior vice-president, operations services and programs; senior vice-president, U.S. franchise operations; and executive vice-president, U.S. franchise operations. Between 1979 and 1995, prior to his becoming a franchisee, Mr. Hyatt had senior operating responsibility at Burger King and then at Hardees for increasingly larger territories, including approximately 500 company and franchised Burger King stores in the Gulf States and Hardees’ approximately 1,400-store Southeast Division.

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