DEERFIELD, Ill. – Carin Stutz has been appointed chief executive officer and president of the Cosi Inc. premium convenience restaurant company effective Jan. 1. She will also become a member of the board of directors.

"Carin is a proven leader with deep operational, marketing and business development experience," said Michael O'Donnell, CEO of Ruth's Hospitality Group and a member of the Cosi board and search committee. "She is a respected leader with a track record of innovative strategic brand building, and an impressive record of accomplishment, having held leadership positions at several of our industry's leading companies. Her energetic leadership and broad perspective will drive our company forward."

Stutz was previously employed by Brinker International Inc. as president of Global Business Development, leading all aspects of franchise development and operations for 240 Chili's and Maggiano's restaurants throughout the world. Before joining Brinker, Stutz was executive vice president of operations for Applebee's International Inc. where she oversaw more than 1,900 company-owned and franchise restaurants in 49 states. Prior to Applebee's, she was the Pacific Division vice president for Wendy's International; served as regional operations vice president for Sodexo, USA and was vice president of corporate operations for NutriSystem Inc.

Stutz earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Illinois Univ. and a Master of Business Administration degree from Mid America Nazarene Univ. She is the chair of the Women's Foodservice Forum, a leading organization in the foodservice industry dedicated to developing gender-diverse leadership talent.

The company also announced that board of directors member Stephen Edwards will assume the role of executive chair on Jan. 1. He will work with the company's management team to refine the long-term strategic plan, explore opportunities to raise capital and communicate with various external constituencies, and will serve as a liaison between management and the board.

There are currently 80 Cosi-owned and 57 franchise restaurants operating in 17 states, the District of Columbia and the United Arab Emirates. Cosi’s goal is to become America's favorite fast-casual restaurant by providing customers authentic, innovative, savory food. Its menu features sandwiches, melts, flatbread pizzas, Squagels, breakfast wraps and other breakfast products and more.