Is Cosi (NASDAQ:COSI) back? Continuing its hearty turnaround, the company last night reported a 9.4% spike in comps for its March quarter. It also reported that it is in talks to expand its deal with Federated Department Stores (NYSE:FD) -- a deal that has the eatery concept springing up inside Macy's locations all over the country.

With comps having clocked in progressively higher for 14 straight quarters, the company's growth at the store level has been consistent. It's been a wild run for investors of the company that specializes in its artisan flatbread and its table-side self-assembly s'mores treat.

The company went public two and a half years ago. It was priced at $7 a share and featured a "freshly baked" theme, and that made it easy at the time to draw comparisons with the more successful Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA). But while Panera kneaded dough, it turned out that Cosi needed dough. In a turbulent 2003, the stock fell apart as profitability proved fleeting, operating expenses proved pesky, and there was an executive shuffle at the top. Just a few months after the company's IPO, you could have bought the shares for a little more than a buck apiece.

Check, please!

But things got better. The market eventually took a liking to the company's new leadership and to its deal last year with Federated. With a stock chart resembling a boomerang, Cosi climbed its way out of the penny-stock muck. Though profits have yet to make an appearance, the operating losses have diminished substantially. Yes, even the most upbeat of analysts doesn't see the company turning the corner toward profitability until the end of next year, but there is certainly hope. The deal with Federated is working. The company's own expansion plans are also now starting to materialize.

Great restaurant growth stocks like P.F. Chang's (NASDAQ:PFCB) and Outback Steakhouse (NYSE:OSI) blazed a more proven path to the top with consistently growing earnings and steady, original ownership. But that doesn't mean Cosi's rockier road may be any less fulfilling in the end. It's just got a longer way to go to there.

Coming soon to a dinner theater near you, The Story of Cosi:

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz started out covering food and restaurant stocks for the Fool in 1995. He does not own shares in any company mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.