Così, Inc., the fast casual restaurant company, and Brad Blum, owner of BLUM Growth Fund, today entered into an agreement for Blum to provide consulting services related to branding, product development, merchandising and marketing in a collaborative effort to maximize long-term shareholder value. This comes on the heels of Carin Stutz’s appointment as the new President and CEO of Così, and is part of her aggressive plan to drive sales and profitability.
“We are pleased to have Brad join us as we accelerate our work already underway to build momentum and turn this strong brand into a profitable business,” said Carin Stutz. “His broad knowledge and extensive experience in the restaurant industry, combined with his turnaround expertise and strong results in developing distinctive brands, will be invaluable as we execute our strategy to make Così a leading national fast casual brand.”
In addition to founding BLUM Growth Fund and having consulted for other major restaurant companies, Mr. Blum previously served as chief executive of Olive Garden for eight years until 2003, and more recently served as chief executive officer at both Burger King and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.
“I am pleased to partner with Carin and her team as she builds a culture to move this great concept forward,” said Mr. Blum. As an investor, I recognized the unrealized potential of the Così brand and I believe there are positive steps being taken to reinvigorate the Così brand. Carin’s leadership approach is impressive as is her identification of the key issues in the restaurants that she believes need to be addressed. Her progressive ideas, including having me lend support to the company, are much appreciated.”
Mr. Blum has also announced a change in his Così shareholder status from activist shareholder to passive shareholder. BLUM Growth Fund holds 3.5 million shares of Così stock, currently representing a 6.8 percent ownership in the company.
“Carin is moving quickly to utilize every resource available to the company to quickly turn Così into a profitable business,” said Stephen Edwards, Così’s Executive Chairman. “I welcome the involvement of Mr. Blum as part of Carin’s strategy.”
Cosìis a national fast casual restaurant chain that has developed featured foods built around a secret, generations-old recipe for crackly-crust flatbread. This artisan flatbread is freshly baked in front of customers throughout the day in open-flame stone-hearth ovens prominently located in each of the restaurants. Così’s warm and urbane atmosphere is geared towards its sophisticated, upscale, urban and suburban guests. There are currently 80 Company-owned and 56 franchise restaurants operating in seventeen states, the District of Columbia and the United Arab Emirates. The Così vision is to become America’s favorite fast casual restaurant by providing customers authentic, innovative, savory food while remaining an affordable luxury.
The Così menu features flatbread sandwiches, freshly-tossed salads, breakfast wraps, melts, soups, Così Squagels, flatbread pizzas, S’mores, snacks and other desserts, and a wide range of coffee and coffee-based drinks and other specialty beverages. Così restaurants are designed to be welcoming and comfortable with an eclectic environment. Così’s sights, sounds, and spaces create a tasteful, relaxed ambience that provides a fresh and new dining experience.