facebook pixal

Noodles & Co. to fuel turnaround with zucchini noodles

Executives hope the plant-based option will draw health-focused diners to the struggling brand.

Noodles & Co. is pinning its turnaround plans on zucchini, hoping to lure health-conscious consumers to the fast-casual brand that closed 55 underperforming units last year.

The chain plans to add zucchini noodles, aka zoodles, to the menu chainwide in May, following extensive tests, company executives revealed in an earnings call for Q4 2017 this week.

For the quarter ended Jan. 2, 2018, Noodles reported a same-store sales decrease of 0.9% systemwide, as well as a total revenue landslide of 12.8% (largely due to those widespread store closures).

“One area we identified as a gap in our menu was in health perception,” Noodles CEO Dave Boennighausen said during the call. “Zucchini noodles have the opportunity to increase frequency, bring lapsed users back to the brand, and introduce the brand to new guests who may have avoided us in the past due to dietary preferences.”

Zoodles will be available in a zucchini romesco, and they can be subbed in for traditional noodles in any other menu item.

The zoodles introduction will coincide with a brand refresh, which will include an updated color scheme and merchandising.

The chain plans to limit growth in 2018, opening at most five new units for the year.

“This pause in unit growth is allowing us the opportunity to refine the brand and work on a new prototype in advance of future accelerated unit growth,” interim CFO Sue Daggett said during the earnings call. “We continue to believe there is opportunity to reduce costs in our new unit development through a smaller footprint that caters more to the off-premise occasion.”

Want breaking news at your fingertips?

Get today’s need-to-know restaurant industry intelligence. Sign up to receive texts from Restaurant Business on news and insights that matter to your brand.


More from our partners