Another Noodle for Noodles & Company

Colorado -- the state where it all began -- will get its 35th Noodles & Company outpost today. The restaurant opening at 1601 Mayberry Drive in Highlands Ranch is the second in that town and the 203rd in the country.

Noodles & Company has come a long way since founder Aaron Kennedy started slinging the slippery things back in 1995, in the first spot in Cherry Creek. And it intends to keep going.

The successful fast-casual chain is banking on growth, even in a slow economy. "We plan to open 35 system-wide restaurants in 2009, which represents about 15 percent unit growth," says Jill Preston, Noodles' director of corporate communications. "Most of these restaurants will be opening in existing markets. We plan to be a 500-unit concept in five years."

Noodles' ambitious goals are matched by an ambitious, international menu, with dishes representing everything from Thai to Mediterranean to comfort American foods. Yesterday, it added Italy to the roster, when it put spaghetti and meatballs on the Colorado stores' menu. That's Noodles' first permanent addition since 2004, and if it works here, it could be rolled out to other states.
And since everything at Noodles is cooked to order (the chain uses no freezers, can openers or microwaves), there's a good chance that spaghetti and meatballs will taste pretty good. --Tyler Nemkov

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