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NoodlesWindow.JPG Noodles & Company
Noodles & Company's focus on building its off-premise business has helped stem losses tied to COVID-19. Shown: drive-through lane for mobile order/pick up.

Noodles & Company sees sales improve after adding curbside pickup to 75% of restaurants

Fast-casual chain furloughs 10% of corporate staff to save costs during coronavirus outbreak; same-store sales dip 7.2% in the first quarter

Though off-premise operations account for nearly 60% of total sales at Noodles & Company, the fast-casual chain reported a 7.2% decline in same-store sales for the quarter ended March 31.

However, the fast-casual chain said sales are improving thanks to operational and menu adjustments such as introducing family meals, adding Uber Eats as an additional delivery operator and offering curbside pick up at 350 restaurants.  

Still, the fallout from the initial wave of dining room closures mandated to curb the spread of the coronavirus has hurt the company. Systemwide same-store sales dropped 46.3% from March 11 to March 31, the company reported Wednesday in a COVID-19 business update.

“With stay at home orders in place throughout much of the country and with mandated closures of dining rooms across the country, our business has been meaningfully disrupted by the current COVID-19 health crisis,” CEO Dave Boennighausen said.

Boennighausen said consumers are responding to tweaks the company has made during the pandemic such as adding family meals, which have given consumers a convenient value offering.

With each family meal sold, Noodles is also donating a meal to a healthcare worker.

Before the crisis, DoorDash was the brand’s main third-party delivery operator. 

The company has expanded its delivery reach by adding Uber Eats.

Prior to the crisis, Noodles was ramping up its off-premise business by adding drive-thru lanes for fast pick up of mobile orders and testing direct delivery.

Spokeswoman Danielle Moore said the company was also testing curbside pickup at a handful of restaurants prior to COVID-19. 

“Once we saw how this situation was going to change the needs of our guests, we worked quickly to make curbside available at more than 75% of our restaurants,” she told Nation’s Restaurant News. “We are still encouraging delivery as a great option for our guests and we’ve extended our offer for free delivery through the end of April.”

Direct delivery rolled out March 20. It allows consumers to order delivery through the company's app, which generates more revenue for the company because the order is not subject to a marketplace commission fee from a third party delivery operator.  

Other measures taken to reduce costs include: furloughing 10% of support center staff; reducing work hours for 20% of corporate staff; implementing a hiring freeze; and reducing salaries for all executives and support employees not subject to furlough or reduced work hours.

“The company will pay 100% of employer and employee medical premiums during the furlough,” Noodles said.


For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.

Learn lessons in leadership during a crisis from our panel of experts on Friday, April 17.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven

TAGS: Coronavirus
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