Solano County Noodles & Company restaurant part of 55-location California franchise deal

A Colorado-based chain of pasta-focused fast-casual restaurants on Monday said it inked a deal with a multibrand franchisee in Los Angeles to take over its expansion in California.

Noodles & Company (Nasdaq: NDLS) plans to sell all 15 current company-owned locations — including its only existing North Bay location, at 1640 E. Monte Vista Ave. in Vacaville — to Warner Foods, which operates over 150 Jack in the Box, Black Bear Diner and Panera Bread restaurants. Under the deal, the existing California shops would be refranchised as NorCal Noodles, and Warner would be Noodles’s exclusive franchisee for the state, opening 40 new locations.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The transaction is set to close Wednesday.

“Importantly, this also marks the second announced new franchise agreement in the last few months, reflecting momentum towards our goal to significantly increase our franchise locations as part of our overall growth plan,” Dave Boennighausen, CEO of Bloomfield, Colorado-based Noodles & Company. “Warner Foods has a proven track record of superior operations, coupled with a people and guest-centric culture, making them the perfect fit to bring the Noodles & Company brand to more communities throughout California. With our economic model, on trend culinary innovation, and ability to meet the needs of today's consumer through our off premise and digital strengths, position the brand well as an attractive growth vehicle for franchise investment."

Noodles & Company, founded in 1995, operates over 450 locations nationwide. It is expecting to open seven to nine locations in first quarter of this year, with 8% unit growth expected for the full year and 10% annual growth thereafter.

“Noodles is one of the strongest brands in the fast-casual space, and over the past couple of years we've seen Noodles emerge as a leader in its ability to innovate its menu, its culture, and its brand,” said Eddie Nieves, partner and operator at Warner Foods. “We're excited about the opportunity to partner with them and further grow Noodles in California, where we already do well with our other brands."

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