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Noodles & Co. (Nasdaq: NDLS), the Broomfield-based fast-casual pasta chain, has spent the past year retooling its stores and menu for the post-COVID-19 dining landscape, and leaders believe they can eventually replicate its model in as many as 1,500 locations.

The company said Monday that starting in 2022 it will aim to expand at least 7% annually with a targeted growth rate of 10%. The ultimate goal will be to more than triple the Noodles store count of nearly 450.

The key to this expansion will be franchising.

Of Noodles’ more than 450 restaurants, 85% are company-owned and operated and highly concentrated in the firm’s mature markets such as the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado.

Noodles is pushing hard to boost franchising activity in less saturated markets such as Dallas; Houston; Atlanta; Tampa; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Fort Myers, Fla.

“With no direct national competitors, Noodles is a trusted and successful partner for franchisees looking to be part of a leading concept,” John Ramsay, vice president of franchise sales, said in a statement. “With strong average unit sales and attractive unit economics, we have a compelling franchise model that is well-suited to meet today’s environment and the ability to adapt to the trends of tomorrow and years to come. There’s great opportunity for growth in major, untapped markets, and we’re looking forward to working with franchisees who are well connected in their community, passionate about food, and are excited to bring fresh, delicious noodle dishes to their market.”

Ramsey, who took over his role in late 2020, told BizWest in February that he’s betting that off-premise dining will remain popular after the pandemic subsides and that Noodles, with its offerings that travel and reheat well, will be poised to cash in.

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