DEERFIELD, ILL. — R.J. Dourney has been named president and chief executive officer of Cosi, Inc. He also will become a member of the company’s board of directors. Mr. Dourney succeeds Stephen Edwards, who will take over as executive chairman and will continue as a member of the board. Mr. Edwards was elevated to c.e.o. in June 2013 after Carin Stutz resigned to pursue other opportunities. Ms. Stutz had been c.e.o. since 2011.
Mr. Dourney is the founder and c.e.o. of Hearthstone Associates, a Massachusetts-based restaurant company that operates 13 franchised restaurants in the Boston market and is Cosi’s largest franchisee. He has 30 years of branded industry experience with corporate and franchise restaurant operations.
“I’ve had the privilege of working closely with R.J. since joining Cosi and have been impressed with his knowledge of the brand and industry, his strong operating acumen and his passion for building a culture of success,” Mr. Edwards said. “R.J. and his team have achieved industry leading results with Cosi, and we are excited to have him carry these results to all of Cosi.”
Prior to founding Hearthstone Associates, Mr. Dourney was chief operating officer for Au Bon Pain, overseeing a $250 million business both domestically and internationally. Prior to joining Au Bon Pain he held operating leadership positions with Applebee’s International, including as vice-president of franchise operations and development. He has extensive operations, real estate and organizational experience having grown multiple concepts throughout the United States.
“I have long known that Cosi is a great brand with tremendous potential,” Mr. Dourney said. “I am confident that leveraging the culture and operating systems developed at Hearthstone to the rest of the organization is a strong first step in moving the brand forward. I look forward to working closely with the Cosi team and franchise partners to leverage our collective talent and passion to turn this business around for the benefit of our shareholders, franchise partners, employees and guests. I know what needs to be done and am ready to move the team and the concept forward.”