Monday, March 4, 2024

Oodles of noodles: Pasta restaurant headed to university area

Noodles and Company is preparing to open in University Commons, according to construction plans via city permitting. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — With a dozen North Carolina restaurants already operational, Noodles & Company seems to be growing its footprint locally in the coming year.

The chain eatery is slated to go into Wilmington’s University Commons at 351 S. College Road, Suite 25, as confirmed by Brixmor Property Group, owner of the Lowe’s-anchored shopping complex. It is home to other eateries like El Cerro Grande, Wingstop and Mission BBQ, among retail stores like TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. 

It’s not the first time Noodles & Company has been interested in the Wilmington market. In 2015, it was considering a location near Independence Mall, according to former Wilmington Business Journal reporting.

Chipman Design Architecture, general contractor Venture Construction Company and mechanical contractor Chisholm Service, Inc. are listed on city permits as building out the space, “to be utilized as a fast, casual sit down restaurant.” The 2,100-square-feet suite is located beside HoneyBaked Ham Company and will seat around 40 people.

A representative for Noodles & Company did not immediately respond to Port City Daily’s inquiry regarding its official launch date. 

Known for highlighting global pasta dishes, Noodles & Company has more than 30 menu items featuring various styles of cuisines, from Korean to Italian, Mediterranean to Thai. Plenty of stuffed shells are on the menu, as are myriad mac-and-cheese dishes. The company touts its Wisconsin-cheese-based dish as a star menu item.

For diners watching their carb intake, the restaurant offers zoodles — zucchini noodles — and gluten-free varieties, as well as soup and salad options. It also has Impossible proteins for vegans and vegetarians alike.

Some of its most popular items are the Japanese pan noodles (caramelized udon in sweet soy sauce, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, black sesame seeds and cilantro) and penne Rosa (noodles in spicy tomato cream sauce, mushrooms, Roma tomato and spinach topped with your choice of Parmesan or feta).

Items are cooked fresh to order and prices range from $5 to $12. The restaurant also has everyday values starting at $7.

Noodles & Company began in 1995 in Colorado and has grown to more than 450 restaurants in 26 states. The closest locations to Wilmington are an hour south in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or north in Jacksonville, North Carolina. 

The majority of the restaurants are corporate-owned, though the company launched an initiative in 2021 to grow its franchisee agreements. With most of its stores located in the midwest, it continues expanding in the South, with more stores planned in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma in 2024.

Each Noodles & Company operation staffs roughly 20 people, with more than 8,000 people employed nationwide. The company has been recognized in 2023 by Forbes magazine as one of America’s Best Employers For Diversity and by Denver Business Journal as one of the Best Places to Work.

According to QSR magazine, the company’s total revenue for its 2023 third quarter is $127.9 million — a slight decrease from $129.4 million it brought in during the same period one year ago. 

The company is also undergoing a change in leadership currently, as CEO Dave Boennighausen departed earlier in the month. As the company holds a nationwide search for his replacement, Noodles and Company board member Dave Madsen, former president of Panera, is acting as interim CEO. 

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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