Così Leans on the "Pop Up" Idea for Updated Restaurant

New experimental restaurant featuring a re-imagined Così® menu and restaurant design opens for business 12/12/12.

December 12, 2012 // Franchising.com // DEERFIELD, IL - Così, Inc. (NASDAQ: COSI), the fast casual restaurant company, today announced another step in its strategic effort to enhance its brand and image. Tapping into a current popular restaurant trend, Cosi redesigned its South Michigan Avenue downtown Chicago space in a matter of three days and reopened in a fun, energetic, "Pop-Up" style. The 4,000-square-foot eatery is testing newer thoughts on creative and innovative ideas for lunch and dinner as well as preparing for next-stage developments throughout the chain. The focus is definitely on unique, flavorful and fresh (new and existing) ingredients emphasizing thoughtful sourcing and following through with great execution.

Looking to the past for inspiration for the future.

When it became apparent that it was time to re-imagine the Così® concept, it was clear that the Così® flatbread and the hearth oven would remain a focal point. Served at the original Così® location on the Rue de Seine in Paris, France, the warm, hearth-baked flatbread has been at the center of the Così® menu for close to 30 years. With that decision made, every other part of the Così® past was up for review.

"We want to honor the ideas that Così's founder Drew Harré had when he opened that very first Così® location," noted Carin Stutz, Così's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Drew was looking to introduce fresh and flavorful foods to the people of Paris in new and surprising ways, and that is how we settled on the Così® "Pop-Up" idea to jumpstart our revitalization."

Drafting the updated Così kitchen.

Notably popular for many successful restaurateurs, Cosi® expanded on the "Pop-Up" idea as an opportunity to bring new flavors and exciting menu items to guests for a limited time. As solid customer feedback offers instant hits, Così® will roll those menu items nationally as quickly as possible across the 129-unit chain.

"We've experimented with an incredible number of recipes over these last few weeks in preparation for the Così® 'Pop-Up'," said Michael Foley, Così's Vice President of Strategic Innovation, and the creative mind behind the new Così® menu. "We think that our guests will tell us immediately how we did. We're looking forward to that feedback to help us prepare even more new menu items and expand our interests in other emerging aspects of running our unique restaurants."

The Così® "Pop-Up" menu will continue to focus on sandwiches, salads and flatbread pizzas. Regular Così® guests will find new and interesting dishes designed to help them explore their flavor palettes. Just a couple of the twenty-three new dishes that accomplish this are the Così® Pulled Chicken Mole sandwich, featuring marinated chicken, avocado, hearth-fired onions, pepitas and a Mexican corn relish, and the Così® Korean Pork BBQ entrée with pulled pork, spinach, cilantro-cabbage slaw and ginger soy vinaigrette, served on a bed of grains.

Developing a contemporary and welcoming environment.

To create a holistic experience, the Così® "Pop-Up" location features design and ambience enhancements that are more in line with the Così® vision of what it means to be an urban café that can easily go suburban. The loft-inspired design takes advantage of existing high ceilings while still creating intimate zones, which are perfect for different needs. Guests can choose to sit at one of two communal tables made from reclaimed wood by a local Chicago artist, at several high-top tables made of concrete, at the newly-constructed bar with its view of the open-flame hearth oven or in the Così® gallery, a special area in the back of the restaurant that features art from the students of the School of the Art Institute located next door to Così®.

"We think that the restaurant not only fits in incredibly well with our South Loop Chicago neighborhood but also sets the stage for the next and now generation Così®," said Stutz. "Every seat is the best seat in the house."

The Così® "Pop-Up" location will officially open on December 12, 2012, at 116 S. Michigan Avenue (across from Chicago's iconic Art Institute), Chicago, IL 60603. Operating hours are Monday, through Friday 6:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m., and Sunday 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

About Così®

Così® (http://www.getcosi.com) is a national fast-casual restaurant chain that has developed featured foods built around a secret, generations-old recipe for crackly-crust flatbread. This artisan bread 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 77 Company-owned and 52 franchise restaurants operating in sixteen states, the District of Columbia, Costa Rica 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 Così® 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.

"Così," "(Sun & Moon Design)" and related marks are registered trademarks of Così, Inc. in the U.S.A. and certain other countries. Copyright © 2012 Così, Inc. All rights reserved. "Così," "(Sun & Moon Design)" and related marks are registered trademarks of Così, Inc. in the U.S.A. and certain other countries. Copyright © 2012 Così, Inc. All rights reserved.

"SAFE HARBOR" STATEMENT UNDER THE PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT OF 1995. This press release contains statements that constitute forward- looking statements under the federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements are statements about future events and expectations and not statements of historical fact. The words "believe," "may," "will," "should," "anticipate," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "objective," "seek," "plan," "strive," or similar words, or negatives of these words, identify forward- looking statements. We qualify any forward-looking statements entirely by these cautionary factors. Forward-looking statements are based on management's beliefs, assumptions and expectations of our future economic performance, taking into account the information currently available to management. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause our actual results, performance or financial condition to differ materially from the expectations of future results, performance or financial condition we express or imply in any forward-looking statements. Factors that could contribute to these differences include, but are not limited to: the cost of our principal food products and supply and delivery shortages and interruptions; labor shortages or increased labor costs; changes in demographic trends and consumer tastes and preferences, including changes resulting from concerns over nutritional or safety aspects of beef, poultry, produce, or other foods or the effects of food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli, "mad cow disease" and avian influenza or "bird flu"; competition in our markets, both in our business and in locating suitable restaurant sites; our operation and execution in new and existing markets; expansion into new markets including foreign markets; our ability to attract and retain qualified franchisees and our franchisees' ability to open restaurants on a timely basis; our ability to locate suitable restaurant sites in new and existing markets and negotiate acceptable lease terms; the rate of our internal growth and our ability to generate increased revenue from our existing restaurants; our ability to generate positive cash flow from existing and new restaurants; fluctuations in our quarterly results due to seasonality; increased government regulation and our ability to secure required government approvals and permits; our ability to create customer awareness of our restaurants in new markets; the reliability of our customer and market studies; cost effective and timely planning, design and build out of restaurants; our ability to recruit, train and retain qualified corporate and restaurant personnel and management; market saturation due to new restaurant openings; inadequate protection of our intellectual property; our ability to obtain additional capital and financing; adverse weather conditions which impact customer traffic at our restaurants; and adverse economic conditions. Further information regarding factors that could affect our results and the statements made herein are included in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additional information is available on Così's website at http://www.getcosi.com in the investor relations section.

Contact:

William E. Koziel
Chief Financial Officer
(847) 597-8803

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