Evanston Così location shuts down months after company files for bankruptcy


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

Così’s Evanston location, 1740 Sherman Ave. The store closed Monday after its parent company declared bankruptcy last September.

Sophie Mann, Digital Development and Recruitment Editor

Così, a fast-casual restaurant in downtown Evanston, closed Monday after its parent company declared bankruptcy last September.

The chain of restaurants filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court in Boston on Sept. 28. After filing, some of Così’s franchise locations remained open, including the Evanston location, 1740 Sherman Ave. The restaurant chain specializes in sandwiches and flatbread with locations across the United States, Costa Rica and the United Arab Emirates.

Mark Demilio, Così’s board chairman, said in a September news release that the company worked with outside advisers and explored multiple paths before choosing to file, but was still unable to keep the restaurants afloat.

“We worked very hard to avoid this step,” Demilio said in the release. “It’s become clear that, despite the extensive efforts by the Company … (it) cannot continue to operate in its current financial condition, and that the best alternative for the Company and its creditors would be to accomplish a sale through the bankruptcy process.”

In the days following the official filing, Così closed 29 of its 74 company-owned locations, cutting hundreds of jobs.

Though the Evanston location remained open for more than six months after filing, Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston, said she was unsurprised when it closed. She had heard about the chain’s financial troubles and said she believed the closure in Evanston was most likely directly related.

“I’m sure this was a corporate decision, not solely a local decision,” Coakley said. “I’m surprised after they filed that our location stayed open as much as it had.”

Ryan Albelda, a McCormick sophomore, said she hadn’t expected Così to close but was unsurprised when it did. She said the Così in her hometown of Hinsdale, Illinois, closed abruptly three years ago, which made her think the chain was having issues on a larger scale.

“In the town I grew up in … (Così) sort of quickly and randomly shut down like this one,” Albelda said. “So I just found it interesting that this one shut down too, but it wasn’t a surprise to me.”

Coakley said the next tenant to move in would likely be another restaurant. Così shared the corner of Sherman Avenue and Clark Street with Starbucks, Einstein Bros. Bagels and several other highly trafficked locations.

Paul Zalmezak, economic development coordinator for Evanston, said the location is one of the best in the city, and staying open on that corner requires a lot of foot traffic. He said restaurants often are forced to move out of Evanston because of the competition in the area, and even before Così closed, brokers had already been calling him to claim the coveted spot.

“That corner is … going to fill fast and has got to be something good,” Zalmezak said. “This is cyclical; these restaurants come and go. Concepts are reinvented all the time.”

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Twitter: @sophiemmann