Noodles & Company, the struggling fast-casual noodle chain, on Friday said that Dave Boennighausen is leaving as the company’s CEO “effective immediately.”
Drew Madsen, the former president of Panera Bread and a board member at Noodles, was named CEO on an interim basis as the company searches for a permanent replacement.
The decision comes after a pair of difficult quarters for the Broomfield, Colo.-based Noodles, which is in a brutal sales slump. Same-store sales fell 5.5% in the second quarter, an 11.9 percentage-point slowdown. They declined 4.3% in the third quarter, with traffic down 6.7%.
The company blamed its own decisions for the problem. Its prices are up 13% over the past year. “We do believe that we were too aggressive with price in totality during 2022 as well as early 2023,” Boennighausen said.
Its stock has reflected that weakness. Noodles stock has languished for years as it never quite lived up to its billing as a fast-casual darling following its 2013 IPO. But it has lost more than half of its value this year due to its sales struggles.
Boennighausen has been the CEO since 2017, guiding the chain through the pandemic and expanding its menu into non-pasta items such as zucchini noodles, or “Zoodles.” Yet its sales challenges and the operating environment have kept the company’s stock in check. Noodles stock price has declined by more than a third during his tenure.
Madsen spent 15 years with Darden Restaurants, and at one point was its president and chief operating officer before he became president of Panera. He has been on the Noodles board for the past decade.
“He is a seasoned executive with a deep understanding of our company’s operations and strategy and has a successful track record as a leader in the restaurant industry,” Noodles Chairman Jeff Jones said in a statement.
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