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Cosi closes more locations and puts itself up for sale

The long-struggling fast-casual chain has been closing locations throughout New England in recent weeks.
cosi chicago
Photograph courtesy of Cosi Chicago

Cosi, the long-struggling fast-casual chain, has closed numerous locations in recent weeks and is preparing for a sale, according to sources and local reports.

The Massachusetts-based company, which emerged from bankruptcy less than three years ago, has been closing locations since late last month. Some closures happened abruptly, even as customers were finishing their meals, according to reports.

The exact number of closures is uncertain, but the Boston Business Journal put the number at “dozens” in a report this week. Exactly how many Cosi locations remain open is also unclear, but local reports suggest the company could be down to as few as 15—one-tenth the number of restaurants it operated just over a decade ago.

Locations closed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Virginia.

Cosi appears to have put itself up for sale, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The company did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

For Cosi, the closures continue a steep, yearslong decline. Considered a hot concept in the late 1990s, the company operated 151 locations at the end of 2008.

The chain somewhat infamously rebuffed a push by former Olive Garden and Burger King executive Brad Blum, who in 2011 offered to invest $10 million in the company and serve as its chairman and CEO.

Cosi continued to struggle, and in 2016 filed for bankruptcy. At the time, the chain operated 76 locations along with its franchisees. Yet that decline has continued in the years since.

According to Restaurant Business sister company Technomic, U.S. system sales declined nearly 10% in 2018, for instance, while unit count declined to 58. It was said to have 51 locations before its recent spate of closures.

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