Sluggish sales in the Colorado, Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, markets brought down comps at Noodles & Company during the first quarter, the fast-casual chain said Tuesday.
Company-wide comps rose slightly—0.8 percent year-over-year—but that number improves to 3.2 percent when those three markets are removed from the equation. Noodles & Company CEO Kevin Reddy cited low brand awareness and Austin residents’ loyalty to independent restaurants as key factors of the negative comps seen in those slower markets.
“We are confident that we understand our opportunities in these markets and are aggressively working on returning them to the success that we are seeing in the balance of the country," Reddy said in a statement.
The Broomfield, Colo.-based chain saw an overall loss of $2.8 million in the first quarter, but remains optimistic about the rest of the year.
In addition to updating its cooking methods for critical menu items, the chain announced plans to remove artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from several offerings by the end of the third quarter and to continue testing antibiotic-free chicken, perhaps nationwide, into 2016.