- Noodles & Company CEO Dave Boennighausen has left his post, effective immediately, following the board’s decision to transition leadership, the company said in a Friday press release.
- Drew Madsen, a Noodles board director, has been appointed interim CEO while the board searches for a permanent replacement.
- The CEO transition comes days after the company reported negative Q3 same-store sales of 3.7% and a 1.2% decline in revenue. Its Q2 same-store sales declined 5.5%.
Boennighausen has been with Noodles for over 19 years and has spent his entire career in the C-suite, initially joining as CFO in 2004, according to his LinkedIn profile. He became CEO in 2017.
Madsen, who has been on Noodles’ board since 2017, has nearly two decades of restaurant experience. Prior to joining the board, he was president at Panera Bread for over a year, where he “led the company to industry leadership in clean food, digital sales, and home delivery, combined with significantly improved operations execution and aggressive cost reduction,” the company said in the press release. He spent 15 years at Darden, including as president and COO for nearly 10 years. He was also on Darden’s board for nearly a decade.
“[Madsen] is a seasoned executive with a deep understanding of our Company’s operations and strategy, and has a successful track record as a leader in the restaurant industry,” said Jeff Jones, Noodles’ board chairman, in a statement. “We have full confidence in his ability to guide the company effectively during this time as we focus on key strategic initiatives to drive top line growth and bottom line results and significantly enhance stockholder value.”
Noodles is seeing an acceleration in Q4 same-store sales growth over Q4 2021, while its year-over-year same-stores sales has modestly declined, Boennighausen said this week during the company’s earnings call. The company has been facing challenging comparisons that were above 10% during Q4 2022.
The fast casual chain has engaged in five initiatives to drive sales through the rest of the year and beyond, Boennighausen said. The company is looking at price optimization with a balance of discounting and promotion and is enhancing its tech platforms to boost guest engagement and analytics. It is also leaning into its recent introduction of a “consumer favorite” chicken parmesan, which has been one of the top three best-selling dishes since its September launch.
Noodles is also undergoing “a complete evaluation and assessment of our culinary offerings, including approach to menu layout, utilizing a leading industry third-party consulting firm,” Boennighausen said.
“While we’re still relatively early in this partnership, we’re very excited at the progress and potential from their areas of focus and look forward to integrating their work into our operating model and menu strategy over the course of 2024,” he said.
Noodles’ last initiative is an expansion of its catering menu, which grew 35% over 2022, and could present additional opportunities for growth, he said.