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jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Labor Lessons

Real growth continues to be hard to come by for the foodservice industry. In fact, overall customer traffic was flat through the first quarter of 2016, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm covering the foodservice industry. Revenues and customer traffic may be inching along, but one area growing at breakneck speed is labor costs.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Post NRA Thoughts: My Labor Costs are Killing Me! What Can I do About It?

The National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show has come and gone to much fanfare. From what I saw and read, the participation was phenomenal. We were able to bring our full consulting team from all of our offices and even made time to break some bread together.  This year, I also participated in a panel discussion that explored unit economics  and was moderated by Steve Romaniello, managing director of Roark Capital.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Study Projects Compound Growth Rate for U.S. Foodservice Market

Restaurant sales in June were slower than in May. A new report looks for foodservice to grow 3.33 percent in the next 5 years. A C-store chain says it will open at least 600 locations in the next few years. Taco Bell expands their Cantina concept. These stories and a whole lot more This Week In Foodservice.

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Highlights

Chain Innovators: Noodles and Company

Noodles and Company has thrived during the recession as its leadership has worked to refine the concept and position it to strongly appeal to today's consumers. The company does this on a number of fronts, including offering a nicer fast-casual dining experience with real china, silverware and no need for customers to bus their own tables coupled with a menu of fresh, made-to-order noodle and other dishes that range from healthy to indulgent, and from spicy to comforting.

Noodles & CompanyIn particular, Noodles has put a sharp focus on culinary innovation, says Jill Preston, director of corporate communications. For example, when the recession hit Noodles added comforting home-style spaghetti and meatballs. Last fall, it introduced a new line of sandwiches. "It reinforces our position that we're not just Asian, Italian or noodles," she says. "We're flavors from around the world. Sandwiches are another way for us to offer that and drive new guests to our restaurants." The sandwich line features a Wisconsin Cheesesteak, Spicy Chicken Caesar, MMMeatball and Veggie Med — all developed using existing inventory items.

A recent limited time offer featured creative riffs on Noodle's Wisconsin Mac & Cheese, including Truffle Mac with Baby Portabellas, Bacon Mac & Cheeseburger, and Southwestern Chili Mac. "They did phenomenally well. We're hoping to bring back the promotion next winter," Preston says. Over the past year and a half, Noodles also expanded into home meal replacement with its Square Bowls program of family-style portions. A hit with busy families, for office meetings and team parties, Preston says the program will be built up to develop catering sales going forward.

Fast Facts

  • Year founded: 1995
  • Headquarters: Broomfield, Colo.
  • Menu specialties: Noodles, soups, salads, sandwiches from around the world
  • Service model: Fast-casual, take-out
  • Units: 260 (217 company-owned, 43 franchised)
  • 2010 sales: More than $250 million
  • Key expansion markets: Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Iowa
  • Typical location: End cap in power centers, lifestyle centers, neighborhood grocery centers; suburban and urban.
  • Average unit size: 2,600 sq. ft.
  • Average kitchen space: 900 sq. ft.
  • Average covers per day: 425
  • Average check: $7.75

Key Players

  • President, Chairman and CEO: Kevin Reddy
  • COO and CFO: Keith Kinsey
  • Chief Administrative Officer: Dawn Voss
  • Executive Vice President, General Counsel: Paul Strasen
  • Executive Vice President, Marketing: Dan Fogarty
  • Executive Vice President, Finance/Accounting: Dave Boennighausen
  • Vice President, Supply Chain: Joe Gordon
  • Smallwares & Equipment Dealers: Edward Don & Co., Avanti and W. West
  • Food Distributors: Reinhart FoodService, Mile Hi Foods, Nicholas & Company, Food Services of America
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