Hannah Sanam Khan
Students began lining up as early as 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning for the opening day of Noodles & Company, the newest dining addition to the VCU area.
When the doors opened at 11 a.m., the line was just shy of 200 people.
“You would think we were some kind of rock concert or something they were trying to buy tickets for,” said manager Herb Smith.
The first 50 in line received a free t-shirt and four free meal vouchers, or “bowl cards.”
The menu consists of globally inspired dishes with more than 25 customizations, including Japanese pan noodles, pesto cavatappi, and Wisconsin mac & cheese. Also offered are appetizers, soups, salads, and sandwiches. The restaurant seats 97.
“I’ve had a few basketball players in today. One guy added pork, chicken, and shrimp to his mac and cheese … so you can load it up!” Smith said. The average cost of a noodle bowl is $5 to $6, or $8 to $9 with added protein.
Smith said even though Noodles & Company is a chain restaurant with more than 340 locations nationwide, he is eager to please the VCU student body.
“We’ve already talked about the idea of staying open later during midterms and finals,” he said. “If that’s what the students tell us they want, and there’s a demand for it, that’s something that would be mutually beneficial.”
Marshall Dobar, an undeclared freshman, quickly picked the steak stroganoff as his favorite dish. “I love noodles,” he said. “Opening up Noodles & Company was such a good idea, because the other dining places get really old, really fast.”
Dobar hopes the company will partner with VCU so that dining dollars can be used as a method of payment. “I think using dining dollars would really give them an edge,” he said. “Trust me, this is where I would spend all my dining dollars.”
The company may not offer dining dollars for payment, but Noodles & Company will allow students to pay with RamBucks soon.
Theater major Sean Pugerude said with the arrival of Noodles & Company comes new competition for the nearby Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. “I think all of the business places are going to have to step it up,” she said. “Panera and Chipotle are really good, but Noodles and Company really takes the cake.”
The 5,800 square foot restaurant is adjacent to the new West Grace North residence hall. Noodles & Company takes the place of Xscape Ultra Premium Lounge, previously known as Hyperlink Café, which closed May 2011 for unpaid sales taxes.
Noodles & Company is located at 814 W. Grace St.