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Focus Brands taps Carin Stutz to lead McAlister’s Deli

Carin Stutz, a former high-level executive of Wendy’s and Applebee’s, has been hired as president of 330-unit McAlister’s Deli, one of the fast-casual brands in the franchise portfolio of Focus Brands. 

Stutz, who worked her way up through operations, has spent most of her long career in casual dining and the quick-service market. She has also logged time in the international market as president of global business development for Brinker International, the parent of Chili’s.

But she was exposed to the fast-casual market through her relatively brief tenure as CEO of the Cosi sandwich and salad chain, a distressed concept in desperate need of a turnaround. Stutz drafted a detailed recovery plan for the chain, but the board opted to replace her with the head of a company that operates franchised Cosi stores. The chain is still struggling.

"Carin's vast experience in building great teams, creating brand differentiation, driving operations and delivering results make her an ideal candidate for the position," said Steve DeSutter, the CEO of Focus.  "I feel confident that McAlister's will continue to thrive under her leadership and industry expertise."

Stutz fills the vacancy left at McAlister’s by the departure of Frank Paci in September. Paci left to become CEO of the Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, the franchisor of two bagel chains.

Focus’ other brands include Schlotzsky’s, Moe’s, Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s. The company is owned by Roark Capital, whose other holdings include Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Miller’s Ale House, Wingstop and Corner Bakery.

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