Noodles & Company , known for serving bowls of classic noodle, Zoodle and cauliflower noodle dishes from around the world, has targeted at least 7% system-wide unit growth beginning in 2022 and is leveraging franchise development to help meet that goal. Despite the many challenges the pandemic posed on the restaurant industry, Noodles was agile and quick to adapt, thanks to its pre-pandemic focus on enhancing digital capabilities for off-premise business.
In 2020, Noodles & Company saw a 128% increase in digital sales, which accounted for 62% of sales. Prior to the pandemic, Noodles & Company was already operating 56% of its business in an off-premise setting and once COVID-19 hit, the company accelerated its plans and quickly pivoted operations to further accommodate the rapid change in guest behaviors. Significant contributors to its sales recovery include the ability to quickly adjust to an off-premise business model with convenient options like delivery, curbside takeout, and Quick Pickup as well as back-of-the-house efficiencies, ensuring that guests never have to choose between quality and convenience.
With nearly 450 locations across 29 states, Noodles & Company is leading the way in the fast-casual space offering an innovative menu, affordable investment, a strong guest base, and a successful operating model for off-premise dining. Reinforced by the brand's longevity and attractive business model for franchising, Noodles is positioned for aggressive growth and development throughout the country.
"In our search to expand our business portfolio with an established fast-casual concept, it was important for us to find a company that aligned with our values and Noodles was the one," says Noodles & Company franchisee and COO of Little Deep Pasta, Dustin Jensen. "LDP has been franchising with Noodles & Company since 2015. As a family-oriented business, we valued Noodles being a people-centric company, that happens to serve food. Their franchise model focuses on people and food first and foremost. You can see that love reflected in their leadership team and their Company owned locations. And although the franchise community is a small footprint within their business, they make sure support is always provided to their franchisees. The company practices what they preach and lives by their values."
Noodles & Company's off-premise capabilities and digital strength uniquely position the brand to meet the needs of today's fast-casual environment and take advantage of long-term guest trends. Focused on creating a frictionless experience rooted in guest safety and overall convenience, Noodles delivers the ideal guest experience through:
- Diverse Menu Options: Noodles & Company has a proven menu that is sure to satisfy the whole family's palate. Standing strong as the largest fast casual brand offering guests noodles and flavors from around the world, the customizable menu brings a new twist to traditional pasta by delivering convenient, made-to-order dishes with fresh ingredients. Through efficient supply chain management and culinary innovation, Noodles has a great distribution system which provides fresh, high quality products to accommodate a variety of dietary needs such as vegetarian, gluten-friendly, paleo, Whole30, and more.
- Distinctive Store Designs: Noodles offers a strong business model including options of flexible site selections and smaller footprints that cater to guests dining in and those looking to grab Noodles on the go. Off-premise dining has proven to be the key to a restaurant's survival throughout the pandemic. Noodles will continue to offer and improve options for guests to enjoy their food both in restaurant as well as convenient to-go options including Quick Pickup, curbside and delivery options, which will become even more prevalent in new restaurants. Recently, Noodles & Company has been streamlining operational procedures for a more efficient kitchen including the introduction of steamers to all restaurants by the end of 2021 which will reduce cook time by nearly a minute.
- Digital Experience: The core of Noodles' off-premise model is the technology that allows for guests to interact with Noodles through an omnichannel experience. The Noodles Rewards app is designed to provide a dynamic guest experience by personalizing rewards, delivering offers tailored to their preferences, and providing the convenience of mobile ordering all in the palm of their hands. Through its website and social media channels, Noodles is also able to engage and connect with its guests in real-time to discover what they want and how to best meet their needs.
"Noodles & Company is a differentiated concept, being the only brand that offers noodle dishes from around the world in a fast-casual setting. With no direct national competitors, Noodles is a trusted and successful partner for franchisees looking to be part of a leading concept," says John Ramsay, vice president of franchise sales. "With strong average unit sales and attractive unit economics, we have a compelling franchise model that is well-suited to meet today's environment and the ability to adapt to the trends of tomorrow and years to come. There's great opportunity for growth in major, untapped markets and we're looking forward to working with franchisees who are well connected in their community, passionate about food, and are excited to bring fresh, delicious noodle dishes to their market."
Noodles & Company is seeking qualified franchisees with an entrepreneurial spirit, prior restaurant franchise experience and strong ties to the company's values of We Care, We are Passionate, We Show Pride, and We Love Life. Franchisees who join Noodles & Company will have access to a team of experts who will support during every step of the process from initial site selection to marketing and training and beyond.
The planned expansion will target select DMAs in the Southern and Southwestern markets including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Texas.