2002: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the spring of the fast-casual sensation, yet the perennial dining powerhouses weren’t quite ready for winter. Todd was hired at Noodles as a shift manager. Since then, he’s progressed through the ranks to become a Market Director over 42 locations in a multi-state area, and Noodles has gone from around 30 locations to nearly 500. We caught up with him to get his perspective on the past and future at Noodles.
When you started as a shift manager in 2002, what made you want to consider Noodles?
Todd: Well I had just moved to Colorado from Illinois, and I was working in full-service at the time. I had actually tried the food at Noodles for the first time a year before — I remember I had the Pasta Fresca, and I was shocked with how fast and delicious the food was. Remember that was 2001 and fast casual was still in its infancy. From then I knew there was something different about Noodles and I wanted to be a part of it; I even turned down a much more lucrative offer from a bigger brand to take that shift manager job.
What do you think makes Noodles different?
The people. We have so many awesome people who really live our core values as a brand. Back in the early days, we had a slogan that you heard a lot: every guest, every bowl, every time. The people at Noodles get it: if you consistently take care of the little things, then the big things tend to take care of themselves.
Was there anyone that helped you get to where you are now?
Definitely Britt Wiedemann (former manager at Noodles, current president of IWI Enterprises, a Noodles franchise), who hired and trained me in Boulder. He is one of the most positive people of all time, and it was really hard to match his energy level at the restaurant. Also Ryan Richard (current RVP of Operations) truly helped me get to the next level through coaching on self-discipline and structure, he taught me to make sure every restaurant visit has a specific purpose.
If you could sit down and enjoy a bowl of Noodles with anyone in history, who would it be?
Barack Obama. He is such an inspiring guy, and he has a way of speaking where even though he’s addressing millions, it seems like he talking directly to you. Also my mom got to meet him twice, which only served to make me jealous of her.
When you’re not working, where could we find you?
Just hanging out with the wife and kid. We do a lot of backpacking, I love trout fishing, and of course watching the (Chicago) Cubs.
Any parting words for that future Noodler, just starting out?
Noodles is a blue-collar company: if you work hard, you will be successful. Become an expert on the foundations. Learn all the tools and be patient. Most of all, commit. If you make it clear that you want to be here, then we will find a way for you to succeed. This is a really exciting time to be a part of Noodles & Company.