Smyrna, Georgia-Atlanta Bread Company named family-dining veteran Rick Arras interim president of the chain of 167 restaurants in the absence of president and chief executive Jerry Couvaras, who is facing charges of investor fraud in Johannesburg, South Africa, following his arrest there in late March, spokeswoman Alice Coggin said.

Meanwhile, Couvaras' family spokeswoman Jane Langley confirmed that Basil Couvaras continues as Atlanta Bread's vice president and chief operating officer while reviewing with attorneys his options in light of related charges. Coggin said Arras was brought in to help execute day-to-day operations on a temporary basis while Atlanta Bread conducts "business as usual" until the apparent turmoil is resolved. The company's franchise convention, scheduled to begin in Miami on May 15, will take place as planned, she said. Langley said it is possible the charges against Couvaras are related to a previously settled lawsuit.

In the early 1990s, Couvaras was accused of fraud by a group of South African investors who allegedly lost $6.5 million in a deal to which he was connected. An early June court date tentatively is set in the current case. -Nation's Restaurant News