Noodles & Company Plans Full Menu Revamp

New menu items and some fresh names will hit the chain soon.

With a new leader in charge, Noodles & Company is looking to give its menu a major makeover, Restaurant Business reports. Drew Madsen, a former exec at Panera Bread who was named CEO of Noodles & Company this month, noted on a recent call with investors that besides a smattering of promotional menu items, the brand's core offerings haven't really been refreshed for quite some time. It looks like 2024 will be the year for overhauling the chain.

At the beginning of 2023, Noodles & Company placed its focus on tech and marketing strategies, investing in digital menu boards and adding new features to its loyalty program to encourage customers to spend more. These efforts were apparently not enough to improve business performance overall: Per the most recent financial report, Noodles & Company saw a 9% decline in foot traffic at its company-owned stores in Q4 and a 4.2% drop in same-store sales systemwide.

Noodles & Company’s plans for the future

"While Noodles has consistently introduced new limited-time offerings in recent years, it has been a long time since we updated our core menu," Madsen said in the call with analysts discussing results. "As a result, our menu looks dated compared to newer fast-casual competitors. While we still offer familiar and comforting dishes that many of our existing guests love, we are not currently a compelling alternative for lapsed or new guests."

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The CEO explained that Noodles & Company will be making changes to more than half of its current menu by adding new offerings, updating current recipes, and even changing the names of some dishes. In an effort to "return to its roots," Noodles & Company will focus on offering contemporary comfort food that is "creamy, cheesy, craveable and satisfying," as well as "wholesome, homemade, nostalgic and nourishing."

Noodle’s & Company’s current and future menu

In addition to classic Italian pastas like spaghetti with marinara, Noodles & Company also currently offers a various forms of macaroni and cheese, Asian dishes such as Pad Thai and Japanese Pan Noodles, a menu dedicated to zucchini noodles, and a few soup and salad options. Madsen noted the chain will continue to offer salads but that it will stay true to its identity as a pasta-based restaurant.

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While a representative for Noodles & Company told The Takeout that "exciting things are in the works at Noodles," the company is not ready to share any further details just yet. No word on the particulars of the menu changes, but we do have some idea of when the rollout might happen.

The revamp will be gradual, as the company plans to test changes as soon as this month, then expand the test to at least 25 restaurants in the summer, and eventually roll out the full overhaul later this year or early in 2025. Noodles & Company ended 2023 with 470 restaurants, including 380 company-owned locations and 90 franchised.

"We need to do more than offer Italian dishes living beside Asian dishes," Madsen added. "We need to offer dishes that are creatively fused. Dishes with classic profiles, bold flavors and signature twists that make them our own."

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Noodles & Company currently offers four stuffed tortellini dishes and three zucchini noodle dishes, but only one "Gluten-Sensitive" macaroni and cheese option. With the availability of so many gluten-free and vegan pasta options on the market now, we can only hope that this new menu brings some much needed and updated variety.

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