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As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 23, 2013

Registration No. 333-            

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, DC 20549

FORM S-1
REGISTRATION STATEMENT
UNDER
THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933



NOODLES & COMPANY
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)



Delaware
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
  5812
(Primary Standard Industrial
Classification Code Number)
  84-1303469
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification Number)



520 Zang Street, Suite D
Broomfield, CO 80021
(720) 214-1900

(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including
area code, of registrant's principal executive offices)



Kevin Reddy
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Noodles & Company
520 Zang Street, Suite D
Broomfield, CO 80021
(720) 214-1900
(Name, address, including zip code, and telephone number,
including area code, of agent for service)



Copies to:
Andrew L. Fabens
Steven R. Shoemate
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
200 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10166
(212) 351-4000
  Paul A. Strasen
Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary
Noodles & Company
520 Zang Street, Suite D
Broomfield, CO 80021
(720) 214-1900
  Joshua N. Korff
Michael Kim
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
601 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
(212) 446-4800



          Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public: As soon as practicable after this registration statement becomes effective.

          If any of the securities being registered on this form are to be offered on a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, check the following box. o

          If this form is filed to register additional securities for an offering pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. o

          If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. o

          If this form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(d) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. o

          Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

Large accelerated filer o   Accelerated filer o   Non-accelerated filer ý
(Do not check if a
smaller reporting company)
  Smaller reporting company o

CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE

       
 
TITLE OF EACH CLASS OF SECURITIES
TO BE REGISTERED

  PROPOSED MAXIMUM
AGGREGATE OFFERING
PRICE(1)(2)

  AMOUNT OF
REGISTRATION FEE

 

Class A common stock, par value $0.01 per share

  $75,000,000.00   $10,230.00

 

(1)
Estimated solely for purposes of calculating the registration fee in accordance with Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

(2)
Includes shares which the underwriters have the option to purchase to cover over-allotments, if any.

The registrant hereby amends this registration statement on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the registrant shall file a further amendment which specifically states that this registration statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with section 8(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 or until the registration statement shall become effective on such date as the Securities and Exchange Commission acting pursuant to such section 8(a) may determine.

   


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PROSPECTUS (Subject to Completion)
Issued                             , 2013

The information in this preliminary prospectus is not complete and may be changed. We may not sell these securities until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This preliminary prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities and we are not soliciting offers to buy these securities in any state where the offer or sale is not permitted.

                       Shares

GRAPHIC

CLASS A COMMON STOCK



Noodles & Company is offering                      shares of its Class A common stock. This is our initial public offering and no public market currently exists for our Class A common stock. We anticipate that the initial public offering price will be between $               and $               per share.

Following this offering, we will have two classes of outstanding common stock, Class A common stock and Class B common stock. The rights of the holders of Class A common stock and Class B common stock are identical, except that our Class B common stock does not vote on the election or removal of directors unless converted on a share-for-share basis into Class A common stock.



We expect to apply to list our Class A common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market or the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NDLS.



Noodles & Company is an "emerging growth company" as defined under the federal securities laws and, as such, may elect to comply with certain reduced public company reporting requirements in future reports after the closing of this offering.



Investing in our Class A common stock involves risks. See "Risk Factors" beginning on page 11.



PRICE $     A SHARE



 
 
Price to
Public
 
Underwriting
Discounts and
Commissions
 
Proceeds to
Noodles & Company

Per Share

  $        $            $         

Total

  $                     $                     $                  

We have granted the underwriters the right to purchase up to an additional                     shares of Class A common stock to cover over-allotments.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and state securities regulators have not approved or disapproved these securities, or determined if this prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

The underwriters expect to deliver the shares of Class A common stock to purchasers on or about                           , 2013.



MORGAN STANLEY   UBS INVESTMENT BANK



BofA MERRILL LYNCH   JEFFERIES   BAIRD   PIPER JAFFRAY

   

                           , 2013


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 
  Page  

Prospectus Summary

    1  

Risk Factors

    11  

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

    30  

Use of Proceeds

    31  

Dividend Policy

    32  

Capitalization

    33  

Dilution

    35  

Selected Consolidated Financial Data

    36  

Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

    39  

Business

    63  

Management

    76  

Executive Compensation

    81  

Principal Stockholders

    87  

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions

    89  

Description of Capital Stock

    91  

Shares Eligible for Future Sale

    94  

Material U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences

    96  

Underwriting

    101  

Legal Matters

    108  

Experts

    108  

Where You Can Find Additional Information

    108  

Index to Consolidated Financial Statements

    F-1  

Index to Unaudited Consolidated Financial Statements

    F-29  



        You should rely only on the information contained in this prospectus or in any free-writing prospectus we may authorize to be delivered or made available to you. We have not, and the underwriters have not, authorized anyone to provide you with additional or different information. We are offering to sell, and seeking offers to buy, shares of our common stock only in jurisdictions where offers and sales are permitted. The information in this prospectus or any free-writing prospectus is accurate only as of its date, regardless of its time of delivery or of any sale of shares of our Class A common stock. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may have changed since that date.

        Until                        , 2013 (25 days after the commencement of this offering), all dealers that buy, sell or trade shares of our Class A common stock, whether or not participating in this offering, may be required to deliver a prospectus. This delivery requirement is in addition to the obligation of dealers to deliver a prospectus when acting as underwriters and with respect to their unsold allotments or subscriptions.

        For investors outside the United States: We have not, and the underwriters have not, done anything that would permit this offering, or possession or distribution of this prospectus, in any jurisdiction where action for that purpose is required, other than in the United States. Persons outside the United States who come into possession of this prospectus must inform themselves about, and observe any restrictions relating to, the offering of the shares of common stock and the distribution of this prospectus outside of the United States.

        "Noodles & Company" and "Your World Kitchen" are our primary registered trademarks. This prospectus contains these trademarks and some of our other trademarks, trade names and service marks. Each trademark, trade name or service mark of any other company appearing in this prospectus belongs to its respective holder.

        Certain monetary amounts, percentages and other figures included in this prospectus have been subject to rounding adjustments. Accordingly, figures shown as totals in certain tables may not be the arithmetic aggregation of the figures that precede them, and figures expressed as percentages in the text may not total 100% or, as applicable, when aggregated may not be the arithmetic aggregation of the percentages that precede them. In this prospectus, "Noodles & Company," "Noodles," "we," "us" and the "Company" refer to Noodles & Company and, where appropriate, its subsidiaries, unless expressly indicated or the context otherwise requires. We refer to our Class A common stock as "common stock," unless the context otherwise requires. We sometimes refer to our common stock, Class B common stock and Class C common stock as "equity interests" when described on an aggregate basis. The rights of the holders of our Class A common stock and our Class B common stock are identical in all respects, except that our Class B common stock does not vote on the election or removal of directors unless converted on a share-for-share basis into Class A common stock. We refer to our customers as our "guests." Our quarters are generally comprised of three periods, the first two periods of which are four weeks and the last period of which is five weeks.

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PROSPECTUS SUMMARY

        This summary highlights selected information contained elsewhere in this prospectus. This summary does not contain all the information that you should consider before deciding to invest in our Class A common stock, which we refer to in this prospectus as "common stock," unless the context otherwise requires. You should read the entire prospectus carefully, including "Risk Factors," "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and our consolidated financial statements and notes to those consolidated financial statements, before making an investment decision.


NOODLES & COMPANY
A World of Flavors Under One Roof

        Noodles & Company is a high growth, fast casual restaurant concept offering lunch and dinner within a fast growing segment of the restaurant industry. We opened our first location in 1995, offering noodle and pasta dishes, staples of many cuisines, with the goal of delivering fresh ingredients and flavors from around the world under one roof—from Pad Thai to Mac & Cheese. Today, our globally inspired menu includes a wide variety of high quality, cooked-to-order dishes, including noodles and pasta, soups, salads and sandwiches, which are served on china by our friendly team members. We believe we offer our guests a compelling value proposition with per person spend of approximately $8.00 for the twelve months ended April 2, 2013. We have 339 restaurants, comprised of 288 company-owned and 51 franchised locations, across 25 states and the District of Columbia, as of April 30, 2013. Our revenue and income from operations have grown from $170 million and $2 million in 2008 to $300 million and $16 million in 2012, representing compound annual growth rates ("CAGRs") of 15.2% and 67.5%.


YOUR WORLD KITCHEN
Our Differentiated Offering

        Your World Kitchen captures the breadth of our differentiated offering and defines our guests' experience. Our company was founded on the core principle that food can be served quickly and conveniently in an inviting environment without sacrificing quality, freshness or flavor.

        "Your" . . . On trend with our world today, where customization is commonplace, we put control into our guests' hands. Each dish is cooked-to-order and can be customized to each guest's personal tastes. "Your" also represents the control our guests have over their dining experience, whether they want a meal to go, a quick sit-down lunch or a leisurely dinner with friends or family.

        "World" . . . We offer globally inspired flavors with more than 25 Asian, Mediterranean and American dishes together in a single menu. At many restaurants, people are limited to a particular ethnic cuisine or type of dish, such as a sandwich, burrito or burger. At Noodles & Company, we aim to eliminate the "veto vote" by satisfying the preferences of a wide range of guests, whether a mother with kids, a group of coworkers, an individual or a large party.

        "Kitchen" . . . Open kitchens are the focal point of our restaurants. Our guests can see the freshness of our ingredients and watch their food being cooked. "Kitchen" says "cooking" and emphasizes that we cook each dish to order.


LEADING RESTAURANT GROWTH AND PERFORMANCE

        From 2004 to 2012, we increased the number of our total restaurants from 100 to 327, representing a CAGR of 16.0%. If we continue to grow at our current rate, we believe we can grow to 2,500 restaurants across the United States over the next 15-20 years.


Total Restaurants at End of Fiscal Year

GRAPHIC

 

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        We have experienced steady growth in comparable restaurant sales (at restaurants open for at least 18 full periods) in 28 of the last 29 quarters, due primarily to an increase in guest traffic. System-wide comparable restaurant sales growth for 2010, 2011 and 2012 was 3.7%, 4.8% and 5.4%, respectively. Our company-owned restaurant average unit volumes ("AUVs") grew from $1,098,000 at the beginning of 2010 to $1,178,000 at the end of 2012. In 2012, our company-owned restaurant contribution margin (restaurant revenue less restaurant operating costs) was 20.3% for all restaurants and 22.3% for restaurants in the comparable base, placing us in the top-tier of the restaurant industry, according to Technomic.

        Our new restaurant investment model calls for a total cash investment of approximately $725,000, net of tenant allowances. Our current target cash-on-cash return on investment for a new company-owned restaurant is 30% in its third full-year of operations. Company-owned restaurants that were open a full three years by January 1, 2013, achieved an average cash-on-cash return on investment of 34.8% in their third full year of operations.


OUR INDUSTRY
We Think of Ourselves as a "Category of One"

        We operate in the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry. According to Technomic, in 2011 the 150 largest fast casual concepts grew sales by 8.4% to $21.5 billion, compared with 3.5% for the 500 overall largest restaurant chains in the United States.

        We believe we are the only national fast casual restaurant concept offering a menu with a wide variety of noodle and pasta dishes, soups, salads and sandwiches inspired by global flavors. We believe our combination of attributes—global flavors and variety and fast service—allows us to compete against multiple segments throughout the restaurant industry. Accordingly, we have a larger addressable market for lunch and dinner. We believe we provide a better overall experience than our casual dining competitors by quickly delivering fresh food with friendly service at a price point we believe is attractive to our guests. You do not have to jostle your gear or carry trays of food to or from your table. Grab a drink, have a seat and we will deliver your food to your table—all without the need to tip.

Our Strengths

        We believe the following strengths set us apart from our competitors:

Variety Makes Togetherness Possible

        We have purposefully chosen a range of healthy to indulgent dishes to satisfy carnivores and vegetarians. Our menu encourages guests to customize their meals to meet their tastes and nutritional preferences with our selection of 14 fresh vegetables and six proteins—beef, pork, chicken, meatballs, shrimp and organic tofu. We believe our variety ensures that even the pickiest of eaters can find something to crave, which eliminates the "veto vote" and encourages people with different tastes to enjoy a meal together.

        All of our dishes are cooked-to-order with fresh high quality ingredients sourced from carefully selected suppliers. Our culinary team strives to develop new dishes and limited time offers ("LTOs") that incorporate seasonal ingredients to bring flavorful and nutritious dishes to our guests. For example, our Spinach & Fresh Fruit Salad rotates between fresh strawberries in the summer and Fuji apples in the winter. We recently introduced our award-winning slow-braised, naturally raised pork, serving it on our BBQ Mac & Cheese, our BBQ Pork Sandwich or as an add-on to any of our other dishes.

Value That Is Greater Than Our Competitive Price Point

        Our value proposition, the quality of our food and the warmth of our restaurants create an overall guest experience that we believe is second-to-none. Our 2012 per person spend of $7.80 is competitive not only within the fast casual segment, but also within the quick-service segment. We believe the speed of our

 

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service and the quality of our food contribute to a value proposition that enables us to take market share from casual dining restaurants. We deliver value by combining a family-friendly dining environment with the opportunity to enjoy many dishes containing gourmet ingredients, like truffle oil and baby portobella mushrooms in our Truffle Mac & Cheese, at a price point of less than $8.00.

Everything Is a Little Nicer Here

        We design each location individually, which we believe creates an inviting restaurant environment. The ambience is warm and welcoming, with muted lighting and colors, comfortable seating and our own custom music mix, which is intended to make our guests feel relaxed and at home.

        We believe we deliver an exceptional overall dining experience. We think that our guests should expect not only great food from our restaurants, but also warm hospitality and attentive service. Whether you are a mother with kids or a businessperson with a BlackBerry, you simply order your food, grab a drink and take a seat. We cook each dish to order in approximately five minutes and bring the food right to your table. Our guests may enjoy a relaxed meal or just eat and run.

        Consistent with our culture of enhanced guest service, we seek to hire individuals who will deliver prompt, attentive service by engaging guests the moment they enter our restaurants. Our training philosophy empowers both our restaurant managers and team members to add a personal touch when serving our guests, such as coming out from behind the counter to explain our menu and guide guests to the right dish. Our restaurant managers are critical to our success, as we believe that their entrepreneurial spirit and outreach efforts generate the warmth of our environment and build our brand in our communities.

        After our guests order at the counter, their food is served on china by our friendly team members. To further enhance our guests' dining experience, we check on them throughout their meal. We offer them drink refills, a glass of wine or dessert, so they do not have to leave their seats.

Desirable and Loyal Consumer Base

        Based on customer data and surveys, we estimate that approximately 40% of our guests visit our restaurants at least once each month. Our guests skew slightly younger and more affluent than the general population, and according to a recent Gallup survey, this demographic spends more on dining than others. We believe the variety of our food and our ability to accomodate a guest's desire to eat quickly or to enjoy a longer meal enable us to draw sales almost equally between lunch and dinner. Our broad appeal and guest loyalty have led to industry and media recognition:

    Nation's Restaurant News, MenuMasters Award, 2013, Golden Chain Winner, 2010, awarded on the basis of the impact of menu items on the restaurant industry.

    The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association, COEX Innovator Award, 2013, awarded annually to a national chain shaping the restaurant industry through innovation.

    DigitalCoco, Top 10 "Most Loved" food and beverage brands in social media, 2012, awarded on the basis of positive comments made by guests on social media.

    Restaurant Social Media Index, Top Social Media Brands and Top Social Consumer Sentiment, 2012, awarded on the basis of comments made by guests on social media.

    Parents Magazine, Parents Top 10 Family-Friendly Restaurant Chains, 2011 and 2009, awarded on the basis of the healthfulness and quality of ingredients of menu items.

    Health Magazine, America's Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants, 2009, America's Healthiest Restaurants, 2008, awarded on the basis of healthfulness of dishes and use of organic produce, among other factors.

 

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Consistent Restaurant Economics and a Flexible Footprint

        Our restaurant model generates strong cash flow, consistent restaurant-level financial results and a high return on investment. Our restaurants have been successful in diverse geographic regions, with a broad range of population densities and real estate settings. We believe we are an attractive tenant to the owners and developers of a wide variety of real estate development types, which allows us to be highly selective in our evaluation of potential new sites. Our disciplined approach to site selection is grounded in an analytical data-driven model with strict criteria including population density, demographics and traffic generators. We take pride in selecting sites where we can design and construct a comfortable, warm environment for our guests.

Experienced Leadership

        Our strategic vision and culture have been developed and nurtured by our senior management team under the stewardship of our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Reddy, and our President and Chief Operating Officer, Keith Kinsey. Kevin and Keith joined Noodles in 2005 after working at McDonald's and, more recently, Chipotle. At Chipotle, they were instrumental in growing the concept from a small number of restaurants to more than 400 across the country between 2000 and 2005 with the financial backing of McDonald's. They delivered a similar growth trajectory when they joined Noodles eight years ago, increasing the restaurant base from 100 to 327 between 2005 and 2012, a CAGR of 16.0%. Kevin and Keith have assembled a talented senior management team with restaurant experience across a broad range of disciplines. We believe our management team is integral to our success and has positioned us well for long-term growth.

Steady, Reliable Financial Performance

        Our globally inspired flavors and differentiated dining experience have resonated with our guests and have resulted in our track record of building profitable restaurants. Since 2008, our revenue and income from operations have grown at CAGRs of 15.2% and 67.5%, respectively. We achieved our sales growth through a combination of new restaurant openings and comparable restaurant sales increases. Our approach has resulted in stable gross margins despite minimal price increases and allows us to stay true to our principle of quality food at a price we believe is attractive to our guests. By design, our selection of dishes is comprised of a diverse collection of ingredients, mitigating exposure to commodity price inflation.

A Clear Path Forward

        We believe we have significant growth potential because of our brand positioning, strong unit economics, financial results and broad guest appeal. We believe there are significant opportunities to expand our business, strengthen our competitive position and enhance our brand through the continued implementation of the following strategies:

Continuing to Grow Our Restaurant Base

        We have more than doubled our restaurant base in the last six years to 339 locations in 25 states and the District of Columbia, as of April 30, 2013, including 13 company-owned restaurants opened in 2013. In 2012, we opened 39 company-owned restaurants and six franchise restaurants. In 2013, we plan to open between 38 and 42 company-owned restaurants and between six and eight franchise restaurants. We believe we are at an early stage of nationwide expansion, and that we can grow to 2,500 restaurants over the next 15-20 years across the United States based on our scalable infrastructure, broad appeal and flexible and portable real estate model.

        Although we expect the majority of our expansion to continue to be from company-owned restaurants, we are strategically expanding our base of franchise restaurants. Our franchise program is a low cost and high return model that allows us to expand our footprint and build brand awareness in markets that we do

 

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not plan to enter in the short to medium term. As of April 30, 2013, we have 51 franchise units in 10 states operated by eight franchisees. Our franchise partners plan to open between six and eight new restaurants in 2013.

Improving Our Performance

        Our system-wide comparable restaurant sales growth for 2012 was 5.4%. We plan to build on our growth performance by increasing brand awareness, guest frequency, new guest visits, per person spend and sales outside our restaurants. The following is our plan to achieve these goals:

    Heighten brand awareness.  We believe that our food is our best currency and that once people try it they become loyal and repeat guests; however, before guests can try our food, they need to know about us. We differentiate Noodles & Company through an innovative, community-based marketing strategy at the corporate and restaurant level to build brand awareness and guest loyalty. Our restaurant managers engage in local relationship marketing where they approach nearby businesses, groups and individuals for appreciation days, tastings and hero lunches to introduce our neighbors to our food. We also communicate directly to the 600,000 members in our Noodlegram club and use our other social media outlets to promote brand awareness.

    Increase existing guest frequency.  We recently refreshed the interior signage in all of our restaurants to encourage menu exploration, which we believe will increase guest frequency. Our new Welcome Wall menu board, placed at the entrance of each of our company-owned restaurants, shows pictures of our dishes in an easily understandable layout so guests can fully grasp our world of flavors without feeling overwhelmed. We believe this merchandising enables our guests to peruse our offerings without feeling the pressure of holding up a line of hungry people. This new merchandising has already resulted in meaningful improvements to AUVs in the restaurants where it has been implemented, and we expect similar results in the rest of our restaurant base.

    Increase new guest visits.  We would like to be top-of-mind for guests whenever they need to eat, drink or simply find a place where they feel welcome. Although we serve our food quickly, we would like guests to view our restaurants as places to dine and enjoy the company of friends and family. To further drive guest visits at dinner, we have recently enhanced our beer and wine offerings and expanded our appetizer selection.

    Improve our per person spend.  While we have generally implemented modest price increases to offset rising costs, we also strive to increase the per person spend by offering additional items, including our expanded beverage selection and appetizers. Our menu development team periodically creates innovative LTOs, which sometimes become permanent menu items, such as our Spinach & Fresh Fruit Salad. This strategy allows us to offer our guests greater variety and entices them to "opt-up" to a premium menu offering.

    Grow sales outside of our restaurants.  We are taking steps to sell more food outside of our restaurants by marketing our larger Square Bowls to families and local businesses. We believe the convenience and price point of our Square Bowls will drive take-out and catering sales. In addition, we believe our commitment to speed of service and freshly prepared food provides us with an opportunity to expand catering sales.

Our Equity Sponsors

        Catterton Partners ("Catterton") is one of the largest consumer focused private equity firms in the United States, with over $2.5 billion of equity capital under active management. Catterton's investment professionals bring complementary strategic and operating experience to their portfolio companies and support management teams in accelerating the value creation process after investment. Catterton invests in all major consumer segments, including food and beverage, retail and restaurants, consumer products and services, and media and marketing services. Immediately prior to this offering, Catterton and its

 

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affiliates owned approximately 45% of our outstanding equity interests and will own approximately        % of our outstanding equity interests immediately following the consummation of this offering.

        Argentia Private Investments Inc. ("Argentia") is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board ("PSPIB"), a Canadian Crown corporation established to invest the amounts transferred by the Canadian government equal to the proceeds of the net contributions since April 1, 2000, for the pension plans of the Public Service, the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and since March 1, 2007, for the Reserve Force Pension Plan. PSPIB is one of Canada's largest pension investment managers, with $64.5 billion of assets under management at March 31, 2012. Their skilled and dedicated team of approximately 400 employees manages a diversified global portfolio including stocks, bonds and other fixed-income securities, and investments in private equity, real estate, infrastructure and renewable resources. Immediately prior to this offering, Argentia owned approximately 45% of our outstanding equity interests and will own approximately        % of our outstanding equity interests immediately following the consummation of this offering. See "Certain Relationships and Related Transactions."

Corporate Information

        We were incorporated in 2002 in Delaware and merged with The Noodles Shop Co., Inc., a Colorado corporation, in 2003. We opened the first Noodles & Company in 1995 in Denver, Colorado. In December 2010, Catterton, certain of its affiliated entities and Argentia collectively became our majority stockholders (the "2010 Equity Recapitalization") and, as of April 2, 2013, own approximately 90% of our outstanding equity interests. Our central support office is located at 520 Zang Street, Suite D, Broomfield, Colorado 80021, and our telephone number is (720) 214-1900. Our website is www.noodles.com. The information on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of this prospectus.


Risks Associated with Our Business

        Investing in our common stock involves significant risks. You should carefully consider the risks described in "Risk Factors" before making a decision to invest in our common stock. If any of these risks actually occur, our business, financial condition or results of operations would likely be materially adversely affected. In such case, the trading price of our common stock would likely decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment. Below is a summary of some of the principal risks we face.

    We may not be able to successfully implement our growth strategy if we are unable to identify appropriate sites for restaurant locations, obtain favorable lease terms, attract guests to our restaurants or hire and retain personnel.

    We may not be able to maintain or improve levels of our comparable restaurant sales.

    The restaurant industry is a highly competitive industry with many well-established competitors.

    We may be unable to protect our brand name, trademarks and other intellectual property rights.

    Challenging economic conditions may affect our business by adversely impacting numerous items that include, but are not limited to: consumer confidence and discretionary spending, the availability of credit presently arranged from our credit facility, the future cost and availability of credit and the operations of our third-party vendors and other service providers.

    Minimum wage increases and mandated employee benefits could cause a significant increase in our labor costs.

    We may face negative publicity or damage to our reputation, which could arise from concerns regarding food safety and foodborne illness or other matters.

    We may fail to secure guests' confidential or credit card information or other private data relating to our employees or us.

    We will face increased costs as a result of being a public company.

 

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THE OFFERING

Class A common stock offered by Noodles & Company                           shares
Class A common stock outstanding after this offering (assuming no exercise of the underwriters' over-allotment option)                           shares
Class B common stock outstanding after this offering(1)                           shares
Over-allotment option                           shares
Use of proceeds   We expect to use the net proceeds from this offering as follows:
   

approximately $            to repay borrowings under our Credit Agreement dated February 28, 2011 with Bank of America, N.A., as Administrative Agent, Swing Line Lender and L/C Issuer and certain other financial institutions (our "credit facility"); and

   

the remainder for working capital and other general corporate purposes.

Risk Factors   See "Risk Factors" for a discussion of factors that you should consider carefully before deciding whether to purchase shares of our Class A common stock.
Proposed Nasdaq Global Select Market or New York Stock Exchange symbol   NDLS

        Except as otherwise indicated, all information in this prospectus:

    gives effect to (i) a reverse stock split of 1-for-            of our shares of Class A common stock, which we refer to in this prospectus as our "common stock," and our shares of Class B common stock, effective immediately prior to this offering and (ii) the redemption of the one share of our outstanding Class C common stock that will occur upon the closing of this offering;

    assumes the effectiveness of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws included as exhibits to the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part, which we will adopt prior to the completion of this offering;

    excludes (i) 5,104,673 shares of common stock issuable on a pre-reverse split basis upon the exercise of stock options outstanding as of April 2, 2013 and (ii)                         shares of our common stock reserved for future grants under our stock option and stock incentive plans;

    assumes no exercise of the warrant to purchase up to 150,000 shares on a pre-reverse split basis of our Class B common stock held by Fahrenheit 212, LLC, and no change to the 10,905,789 shares of Class B common stock outstanding as of April 2, 2013 other than the reverse stock split described above; and

    assumes (i) no exercise by the underwriters of their option to purchase up to                        additional shares from us and (ii) an initial public offering price of $            per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover of this prospectus.

   


(1)
Following this offering, we will have two classes of outstanding common stock, Class A common stock and Class B common stock. The rights of the holders of Class A common stock and Class B common stock are identical, except that our Class B common stock does not vote on the election or removal of directors unless converted on a share-for-share basis into Class A common stock.

 

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SUMMARY CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

        The following table summarizes our consolidated historical financial and operating data. The statements of income data for the fiscal years ended January 1, 2013, January 3, 2012 and December 28, 2010 and the balance sheet data as of January 1, 2013 and January 3, 2012, have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus and the balance sheet data as of December 28, 2010 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included in this prospectus. The statements of income data for the quarters ended April 2, 2013 and April 3, 2012 and the balance sheet data as of April 2, 2013 have been derived from our unaudited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus. The balance sheet data as of April 3, 2012 have been derived from our unaudited consolidated financial statements not included in this prospectus. The financial data presented includes all normal and recurring adjustments that we consider necessary for a fair presentation of the financial position and results of operations for such periods.

        The historical results presented below are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected for any future period. This information should be read in conjunction with "Risk Factors," "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.

        We operate on a 52 or 53 week fiscal year ending on the Tuesday closest to December 31. Fiscal years 2012 and 2010, which ended on January 1, 2013 and December 28, 2010, respectively, each contained 52 weeks. Fiscal year 2011, which ended on January 3, 2012, contained 53 weeks. We refer to our fiscal years as 2012, 2011 and 2010. Our fiscal quarters each contain thirteen weeks, with the exception of the fourth quarter of a 53 week fiscal year, which contains fourteen weeks.

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  April 2,
2013
(unaudited)
  April 3,
2012
(unaudited)
 
 
  (in thousands, except share and per share data)
 

Statements of Income Data:

                               

Revenue:

                               

Restaurant revenue

  $ 297,264   $ 253,467   $ 218,560   $ 80,518   $ 69,198  

Franchising royalties and fees

    3,146     2,599     2,272     762     690  
                       

Total revenue

    300,410     256,066     220,832     81,280     69,888  

Costs and Expenses:

                               

Restaurant Operating Costs (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below):

                               

Cost of sales

    78,997     66,419     56,869     21,301     18,230  

Labor

    89,435     75,472     64,942     24,830     20,753  

Occupancy

    29,323     25,208     21,650     8,359     6,936  

Other restaurant operating costs

    39,241     34,652     29,784     11,060     9,553  

General and administrative(1)

    26,220     23,842     24,921     7,235     6,442  

Depreciation and amortization

    16,719     14,501     13,932     4,801     3,732  

Pre-opening

    3,145     2,327     2,088     921     581  

Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments

    1,278     1,629     2,815     201     180  
                       

Total costs and expenses

    284,358     244,050     217,001     78,708     66,407  
                       

Income from operations

    16,052     12,016     3,831     2,572     3,481  

Debt extinguishment expense

    2,646     275              

Interest expense

    5,028     6,132     1,819     1,053     1,284  
                       

Income before income taxes

    8,378     5,609     2,012     1,519     2,197  

Provision (benefit) for income taxes

    3,215     1,780     (366 )   595     906  
                       

Net income

  $ 5,163   $ 3,829   $ 2,378   $ 924   $ 1,291  
                       

 

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  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  April 2,
2013
(unaudited)
  April 3,
2012
(unaudited)
 
 
  (in thousands, except share and per share data)
 

Earnings per Class A and Class B common share, combined:

                               

Basic

  $ 0.13   $ 0.10   $ 0.06   $ 0.02   $ 0.03  

Diluted

  $ 0.13   $ 0.10   $ 0.05   $ 0.02   $ 0.03  

Weighted average Class A and Class B common shares outstanding, combined:

                               

Basic

    40,275,536     40,273,306     42,263,534     40,275,536     40,275,536  

Diluted

    40,321,564     40,273,306     43,720,951     41,026,517     40,278,762  

Selected Operating Data:

                               

Company-owned restaurants at end of period

    276     239     212     284     245  

Franchise-owned restaurants at end of period

    51     45     43     51     45  

Company-owned:

                               

Average unit volumes(2)

  $ 1,178   $ 1,147   $ 1,126   $ 1,180   $ 1,161  

Comparable restaurant sales(3)

    5.2 %   4.2 %   3.2 %   2.2 %   6.8 %

Restaurant contribution(4)

  $ 60,268   $ 51,716   $ 45,315   $ 14,968   $ 13,726  

as a percentage of restaurant revenue

    20.3 %   20.4 %   20.7 %   18.6 %   19.8 %

EBITDA(5)

  $ 30,125   $ 26,242   $ 17,763   $ 7,373   $ 7,213  

Adjusted EBITDA(5)

  $ 36,283   $ 30,488   $ 26,472   $ 8,187   $ 7,952  

as a percentage of revenue

    12.1 %   11.9 %   12.0 %   10.1 %   11.4 %

Pro forma net income(6)

  $ 9,187               $ 1,411        

 

 
  As of  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  April 2,
2013
(unaudited)
  April 3,
2012
(unaudited)
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Balance Sheet Data(7):

                               

Total current assets

  $ 16,154   $ 12,879   $ 214,498   $ 17,367   $ 12,246  

Total assets

    156,995     126,325     311,148     166,054     131,177  

Total current liabilities

    23,760     20,557     213,664     24,860     21,026  

Total long-term debt

    93,731     77,523     77,030     99,509     80,153  

Total liabilities

    142,987     118,802     309,070     150,709     122,196  

Temporary equity

    3,601     2,572     2,572     3,601     2,572  

Total stockholders' equity

    10,407     4,951     (494 )   11,744     6,409  

(1)
2010 included $3.7 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense and $0.3 million of expense for our portion of payroll taxes related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. See Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements, Equity Recapitalization. 2012 and 2011 each included $1.0 million of management fee expense and the first quarter of 2013 and 2012 each included $250,000 of management fee expense, in accordance with our management services agreement and through the Class C common stock dividend paid to the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock. The one share of Class C common stock will be redeemed upon the closing of this offering.

(2)
AUVs consist of average annualized sales of all company-owned restaurants over the trailing 12 periods in a typical operating year.

(3)
Comparable restaurant sales represent year-over-year sales for restaurants open for at least 18 full periods.

(4)
Restaurant contribution represents restaurant revenue less restaurant operating costs which are cost of sales, labor, occupancy and other restaurant operating costs.

(5)
EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA are supplemental measures of operating performance that do not represent and should not be considered as alternatives to net income or cash flow from operations, as determined by U.S. generally accepted accounting principals ("US GAAP"), and our calculation thereof may not be comparable to that reported by other companies. These measures are presented because we believe that investors' understanding of our performance is enhanced by including these non-GAAP financial measures as a reasonable basis for evaluating our ongoing results of operations.

EBITDA is calculated as net income before interest expense, provision (benefit) for income taxes and depreciation and amortization. Adjusted EBITDA further adjusts EBITDA to reflect the additions and eliminations described in the table below.

EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA are presented because: (i) we believe they are useful measures for investors to assess the operating performance of our business without the effect of non-cash charges such as depreciation and amortization expenses and asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments and (ii) we use adjusted EBITDA internally as a benchmark for certain of our cash incentive plans and to evaluate our operating performance or compare our performance to that of our competitors. The use of adjusted EBITDA as a performance measure permits a comparative assessment of our operating performance relative to our performance based on our US GAAP results, while isolating the effects of some items that vary from period to period without any correlation to core operating performance or that vary widely among similar companies. Companies within our industry exhibit significant variations with respect to capital structures and cost of capital (which affect interest expense and

 

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    income tax rates) and differences in book depreciation of property, plant and equipment (which affect relative depreciation expense), including significant differences in the depreciable lives of similar assets among various companies. Our management believes that adjusted EBITDA facilitates company-to-company comparisons within our industry by eliminating some of these foregoing variations. Adjusted EBITDA as presented may not be comparable to other similarly-titled measures of other companies, and our presentation of adjusted EBITDA should not be construed as an inference that our future results will be unaffected by excluded or unusual items.

    Because of these limitations, EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for performance measures calculated in accordance with US GAAP. We compensated for these limitations by relying primarily on our US GAAP results and using EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA only supplementally. Our management recognizes that EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA have limitations as analytical financial measures, including the following:

    EBITDA and EBITDA does not reflect our capital expenditures or future requirements for capital expenditures;

    EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA do not reflect interest expense or the cash requirements necessary to service interest or principal payments, associated with our indebtedness;

    EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA do not reflect depreciation and amortization, which are non-cash charges, although the assets being depreciated and amortized will likely have to be replaced in the future, and do not reflect cash requirements for such replacements; and

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect the cost of stock-based compensation;

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect changes in, or cash requirements for, our working capital needs.

    The following tables present a reconciliation of net income to EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA:

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  April 2,
2013
  April 3,
2012
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Net income, as reported

  $ 5,163   $ 3,829   $ 2,378   $ 924   $ 1,291  

Depreciation and amortization

    16,719     14,501     13,932     4,801     3,732  

Interest expense

    5,028     6,132     1,819     1,053     1,284  

Provision (benefit) for income taxes

    3,215     1,780     (366 )   595     906  
                       

EBITDA

  $ 30,125   $ 26,242   $ 17,763   $ 7,373   $ 7,213  

Debt extinguishment expense

    2,646     275              

Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairment

    1,278     1,629     2,815     201     180  

Management fees(a)

    1,000     1,014         250     250  

Stock-based compensation expense(b)

    1,234     1,328     5,894     363     309  
                       

Adjusted EBITDA

  $ 36,283   $ 30,488   $ 26,472   $ 8,187   $ 7,952  
                       

(a)
Fiscal years 2012 and 2011 each included $1.0 million of management fee expense and the first quarter of 2013 and 2012 each included $250,000 of management fee expense, in accordance with our management services agreement and through the Class C common stock dividend paid to the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock.

(b)
2010 included $3.7 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense and $0.3 million of expense for our portion of payroll taxes related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. See Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements, Equity Recapitalization.
(6)
Pro forma net income gives effect to the transaction as if it had occurred on January 4, 2012. Pro forma net income reflects: (i) the net decrease in interest expense resulting from the prepayment of outstanding loans with the net proceeds of our IPO, (ii) the elimination of our management fee and Class C common stock dividend, (iii) the acceleration of stock option vesting and the associated expense, (iv) incremental public company costs and (v) increases in income tax expense resulting from higher net income.

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1, 2013   April 2, 2013  

Net income, as reported

  $ 5,163   $ 924  

Interest expense(a)

    7,306     961  

Management fees(b)

    1,000     250  

Incremental public company costs(c)

    (1,600 )   (400 )

Tax effect on adjustments(d)

    (2,682 )   (324 )
           

Pro forma net income

  $ 9,187   $ 1,411  
           

(a)
Reflects the net adjustment to interest expense resulting from the repayment of borrowings of $94.5 million of aggregate principal amount of outstanding loans with the net proceeds from this offering as if the transaction occurred on January 4, 2012 and assumes that the outstanding debt balance was zero for all periods presented. This interest adjustment was calculated by reversing the historical interest expense and debt extinguishment expense of $7.7 million for the year ended January 1, 2013 and $1.1 million for the quarter ended April 2, 2013, and recalculating interest expense based upon the unused commitment fee and the amortization of loan origination fees in an amount of $0.4 million for the year ended January 1, 2013 and $0.1 million for the quarter ended April 2, 2013.

(b)
Reflects the elimination of the management fees and Class C common stock dividend paid to our sponsors for the periods presented.

(c)
Reflects the estimated additional costs related to being a publicly traded company.

(d)
Reflects adjustments to historical income tax expense to reflect the income tax expense effect of the above adjustments to net income, assuming a statutory tax rate of 40% for each period.
(7)
As of December 28, 2010, the consolidated balance sheet included $189.4 million in restricted cash and current liabilities that were temporarily held due to timing of the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. See Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements, Equity Recapitalization.

 

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RISK FACTORS

        An investment in our Class A common stock, which we refer to in this prospectus as our "common stock," involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below before deciding whether to purchase shares of our common stock. In assessing these risks, you should also refer to the other information contained in this prospectus, including our consolidated financial statements and related notes. If any of the risks described below actually occur, our business, financial conditions or results of operations could be materially adversely affected. In any such case, the trading price of our common stock could decline and you could lose all or part of your investment.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

Our sales growth rate depends primarily on our ability to open new restaurants and is subject to many unpredictable factors.

        One of the key means of achieving our growth strategy will be through opening new restaurants and operating those restaurants on a profitable basis. We expect this to be the case for the foreseeable future. In 2013, we plan to open between 38 and 42 company-owned restaurants and between six and eight franchise restaurants, including 13 company-owned restaurants already opened in 2013 through April 30, 2013. We may not be able to open new restaurants as quickly as planned. In the past, we have experienced delays in opening some restaurants and that could happen again. Delays or failures in opening new restaurants could materially and adversely affect our growth strategy and our expected results. As we operate more restaurants, our rate of expansion relative to the size of our restaurant base will eventually decline.

        In addition, one of our biggest challenges is locating and securing an adequate supply of suitable new restaurant sites in our target markets. Competition for those sites is intense, and other restaurant and retail concepts that compete for those sites may have unit economic models that permit them to bid more aggressively for those sites than we can. There is no guarantee that a sufficient number of suitable sites will be available in desirable areas or on terms that are acceptable to us in order to achieve our growth plan. Our ability to open new restaurants also depends on other factors, including:

    negotiating leases with acceptable terms;

    identifying, hiring and training qualified employees in each local market;

    managing construction and development costs of new restaurants, particularly in competitive markets;

    obtaining construction materials and labor at acceptable costs, particularly in urban markets;

    securing required governmental approvals and permits (including construction and other permits) in a timely manner and responding effectively to any changes in local, state or federal laws and regulations that adversely affect our costs or ability to open new restaurants; and

    avoiding the impact of inclement weather, natural disasters and other calamities.

        Our progress in opening new restaurants from quarter to quarter may occur at an uneven rate. If we do not open new restaurants in the future according to our current plans, the delay could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our long-term success is highly dependent on our ability to effectively identify and secure appropriate sites for new restaurants.

        We intend to develop new restaurants in our existing markets, expand our footprint into adjacent markets and selectively enter into new markets. In order to build new restaurants, we must first identify target markets where we can enter or expand our footprint, taking into account numerous factors,

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including the location of our current restaurants, local economic trends, population density, area demographics and geography. Then we must locate and secure appropriate sites, which is one of our biggest challenges. There are numerous factors involved in identifying and securing an appropriate site, including:

    identification and availability of locations with the appropriate size, traffic patterns, local retail and business attractions and infrastructure that will drive high levels of guest traffic and sales per unit;

    competition in new markets, including competition for restaurant sites;

    financial conditions affecting developers and potential landlords, such as the effects of macro-economic conditions and the credit market, which could lead to these parties delaying or canceling development projects (or renovations of existing projects), in turn reducing the number of appropriate locations available;

    developers and potential landlords obtaining licenses or permits for development projects on a timely basis;

    proximity of potential development sites to an existing location;

    anticipated commercial, residential and infrastructure development near our new restaurants; and

    availability of acceptable lease arrangements.

        We may not be able to successfully develop critical market presence for our brand in new geographical markets, as we may be unable to find and secure attractive locations, build name recognition or attract new guests. If we are unable to fully implement our development plan, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

Our expansion into new markets may present increased risks.

        We plan to open restaurants in markets where we have little or no operating experience. Restaurants we open in new markets may take longer to reach expected sales and profit levels on a consistent basis and may have higher construction, occupancy or operating costs than restaurants we open in existing markets, thereby affecting our overall profitability. New markets may have competitive conditions, consumer tastes and discretionary spending patterns that are more difficult to predict or satisfy than our existing markets. We may need to make greater investments than we originally planned in advertising and promotional activity in new markets to build brand awareness. We may find it more difficult in new markets to hire, motivate and keep qualified employees who share our vision, passion and business culture. We may also incur higher costs from entering new markets, if, for example, we assign area managers to manage comparatively fewer restaurants than we assign in more developed markets. As a result, these new restaurants may be less successful or may achieve target AUVs at a slower rate. If we do not successfully execute our plans to enter new markets, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

New restaurants, once opened, may not be profitable, and the increases in average restaurant sales and comparable restaurant sales that we have experienced in the past may not be indicative of future results.

        Our new restaurants typically open with above average volumes, which then decline after the initial sales surge that comes with interest in a restaurant's grand opening. Recent openings have stabilized in sales after approximately 32 to 36 weeks of operation, at which time the restaurant's sales typically begin to grow on a consistent basis. In new markets, the length of time before average sales for new restaurants stabilize is less predictable and can be longer as a result of our limited knowledge of these markets and consumers' limited awareness of our brand. New restaurants may not be profitable and their sales performance may not follow historical patterns. In addition, our average restaurant sales and comparable restaurant sales may not increase at the rates achieved over the past several years. Our ability to operate

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new restaurants profitably and increase average restaurant sales and comparable restaurant sales will depend on many factors, some of which are beyond our control, including:

    consumer awareness and understanding of our brand;

    general economic conditions, which can affect restaurant traffic, local labor costs and prices we pay for the food products and other supplies we use;

    changes in consumer preferences and discretionary spending;

    competition, either from our competitors in the restaurant industry or our own restaurants;

    temporary and permanent site characteristics of new restaurants; and

    changes in government regulation.

        If our new restaurants do not perform as planned, our business and future prospects could be harmed. In addition, if we are unable to achieve our expected average restaurant sales, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be adversely affected.

Our sales and profit growth could be adversely affected if comparable restaurant sales are less than we expect.

        The level of comparable restaurant sales, which represent the change in year-over-year sales for restaurants open for at least 18 full periods, will affect our sales growth and will continue to be a critical factor affecting profit growth because the profit margin on comparable restaurant sales is generally higher than the profit margin on new restaurant sales. Our ability to increase comparable restaurant sales depends in part on our ability to successfully implement our initiatives to build sales. It is possible such initiatives will not be successful, that we will not achieve our target comparable restaurant sales growth or that the change in comparable restaurant sales could be negative, which may cause a decrease in sales and profit growth that would materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition—Highlights and Trends."

Our failure to manage our growth effectively could harm our business and operating results.

        Our growth plan includes a significant number of new restaurants. Our existing restaurant management systems, financial and management controls and information systems may be inadequate to support our planned expansion. Managing our growth effectively will require us to continue to enhance these systems, procedures and controls and to hire, train and retain managers and team members. We may not respond quickly enough to the changing demands that our expansion will impose on our management, restaurant teams and existing infrastructure which could harm our business, financial condition or results of operations.

        We believe our culture—from the restaurant level up through management—is an important contributor to our success. As we grow, however, we may have difficulty maintaining our culture or adapting it sufficiently to meet the needs of our operations. Among other important factors, our culture depends on our ability to attract, retain and motivate employees who share our enthusiasm and dedication to our concept. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected if we do not maintain our infrastructure and culture as we grow.

The planned rapid increase in the number of our restaurants may make our future results unpredictable.

        In 2013, we expect to open between 38 and 42 company-owned restaurants and between six and eight franchise restaurants, and we plan to continue to increase the number of our restaurants in the next several years. This growth strategy and the substantial investment associated with the development of each new restaurant may cause our operating results to fluctuate and be unpredictable or adversely affect our profits. Our future results depend on various factors, including successful selection of new markets and restaurant

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locations, local market acceptance of our restaurants, consumer recognition of the quality of our food and willingness to pay our prices, the quality of our operations and general economic conditions. In addition, as has happened when other restaurant concepts have tried to expand, we may find that our concept has limited appeal in new markets or we may experience a decline in the popularity of our concept in the markets in which we operate. Newly opened restaurants or our future markets and restaurants may not be successful or our system-wide average restaurant sales may not increase at historical rates, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Opening new restaurants in existing markets may negatively affect sales at our existing restaurants.

        The consumer target area of our restaurants varies by location, depending on a number of factors, including population density, other local retail and business attractions, area demographics and geography. As a result, the opening of a new restaurant in or near markets in which we already have restaurants could adversely affect the sales of these existing restaurants. Existing restaurants could also make it more difficult to build our consumer base for a new restaurant in the same market. Our core business strategy does not entail opening new restaurants that we believe will materially affect sales at our existing restaurants, but we may selectively open new restaurants in and around areas of existing restaurants that are operating at or near capacity to effectively serve our guests. Sales cannibalization between our restaurants may become significant in the future as we continue to expand our operations and could affect our sales growth, which could, in turn, materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Competition from other restaurant companies could adversely affect us.

        We face competition from the casual dining, quick-service and fast casual segments of the restaurant industry. These segments are highly competitive with respect to, among other things, taste, price, food quality and presentation, service, location and the ambience and condition of each restaurant. Our competition includes a variety of locally owned restaurants and national and regional chains who offer dine-in, carry-out and delivery services. Many of our competitors have existed longer and have a more established market presence with substantially greater financial, marketing, personnel and other resources than we have. Among our competitors are a number of multi-unit, multi-market fast casual restaurant concepts, some of which are expanding nationally. As we expand, we will face competition from these concepts and new competitors that strive to compete with our market segments. For example, additional competitive pressures come from the deli sections and in-store cafés of grocery store chains, as well as from convenience stores and online meal preparation sites. These competitors may have, among other things, lower operating costs, better locations, better facilities, better management, more effective marketing and more efficient operations.

        Several of our competitors compete by offering menu items that are specifically identified as low in carbohydrates, gluten-free or healthier for consumers. In addition, many of our competitors emphasize lower-cost value options or meal packages or have loyalty programs, strategies we do not currently pursue. Any of these competitive factors may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Negative publicity relating to one of our restaurants, including our franchised restaurants, could reduce sales at some or all of our other restaurants.

        Our success is dependent in part upon our ability to maintain and enhance the value of our brand, consumers' connection to our brand and positive relationships with our franchisees. We may, from time to time, be faced with negative publicity relating to food quality, restaurant facilities, guest complaints or litigation alleging illness or injury, health inspection scores, integrity of our or our suppliers' food processing, employee relationships or other matters, regardless of whether the allegations are valid or whether we are held to be responsible. The negative impact of adverse publicity relating to one restaurant

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may extend far beyond the restaurant or franchise involved to affect some or all of our other restaurants. The risk of negative publicity is particularly great with respect to our franchised restaurants because we are limited in the manner in which we can regulate them, especially on a real-time basis. The considerable expansion in the use of social media over recent years can further amplify any negative publicity that could be generated by such incidents. A similar risk exists with respect to unrelated food service businesses, if consumers associate those businesses with our own operations.

        Additionally, employee claims against us based on, among other things, wage and hour violations, discrimination, harassment or wrongful termination may also create negative publicity that could adversely affect us and divert our financial and management resources that would otherwise be used to benefit the future performance of our operations. A significant increase in the number of these claims or an increase in the number of successful claims could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. Consumer demand for our products and our brand's value could diminish significantly if any such incidents or other matters create negative publicity or otherwise erode consumer confidence in us or our products, which would likely result in lower sales and could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Governmental regulation may adversely affect our ability to open new restaurants or otherwise adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

        We are subject to various federal, state and local regulations. Our restaurants are subject to state and local licensing and regulation by health, alcoholic beverage, sanitation, food and occupational safety and other agencies. We may experience material difficulties or failures in obtaining the necessary licenses, approvals or permits for our restaurants, which could delay planned restaurant openings or affect the operations at our existing restaurants. In addition, stringent and varied requirements of local regulators with respect to zoning, land use and environmental factors could delay or prevent development of new restaurants in particular locations.

        We are subject to the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state laws that give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in the context of employment, public accommodations and other areas, including our restaurants. We may in the future have to modify restaurants, for example, by adding access ramps or redesigning certain architectural fixtures, to provide service to or make reasonable accommodations for disabled persons. The expenses associated with these modifications could be material.

        Our operations are also subject to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act, which governs worker health and safety, the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs such matters as minimum wages and overtime, and a variety of similar federal, state and local laws that govern these and other employment law matters. In addition, federal, state and local proposals related to paid sick leave or similar matters could, if implemented, materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Food safety and foodborne illness concerns could have an adverse effect on our business.

        We cannot guarantee that our internal controls and training will be fully effective in preventing all food safety issues at our restaurants, including any occurrences of foodborne illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli and hepatitis A. In addition, there is no guarantee that our franchise locations will maintain the high levels of internal controls and training we require at our company-owned restaurants. Furthermore, we and our franchisees rely on third-party vendors, making it difficult to monitor food safety compliance and increasing the risk that foodborne illness would affect multiple locations rather than a single restaurant. Some foodborne illness incidents could be caused by third-party vendors and transporters outside of our control. New illnesses resistant to our current precautions may develop in the future, or diseases with long incubation periods could arise, that could give rise to claims or allegations on a retroactive basis. One or more instances of foodborne illness in any of our restaurants or markets or

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related to food products we sell could negatively affect our restaurant sales nationwide if highly publicized on national media outlets or through social media. This risk exists even if it were later determined that the illness was wrongly attributed to us or one of our restaurants. A number of other restaurant chains have experienced incidents related to foodborne illnesses that have had a material adverse effect on their operations. The occurrence of a similar incident at one or more of our restaurants, or negative publicity or public speculation about an incident, could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Compliance with environmental laws may negatively affect our business.

        We are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations concerning waste disposal, pollution, protection of the environment, and the presence, discharge, storage, handling, release and disposal of, and exposure to, hazardous or toxic substances. These environmental laws provide for significant fines and penalties for noncompliance and liabilities for remediation, sometimes without regard to whether the owner or operator of the property knew of, or was responsible for, the release or presence of hazardous toxic substances. Third parties may also make claims against owners or operators of properties for personal injuries and property damage associated with releases of, or actual or alleged exposure to, such hazardous or toxic substances at, on or from our restaurants. Environmental conditions relating to releases of hazardous substances at prior, existing or future restaurant sites could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. Further, environmental laws, and the administration, interpretation and enforcement thereof, are subject to change and may become more stringent in the future, each of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We rely heavily on certain vendors, suppliers and distributors, which could adversely affect our business.

        Our ability to maintain consistent price and quality throughout our restaurants depends in part upon our ability to acquire specified food products and supplies in sufficient quantities from third-party vendors, suppliers and distributors at a reasonable cost. We do not control the businesses of our vendors, suppliers and distributors and our efforts to specify and monitor the standards under which they perform may not be successful. Furthermore, certain food items are perishable, and we have limited control over whether these items will be delivered to us in appropriate condition for use in our restaurants. If any of our vendors or other suppliers are unable to fulfill their obligations to our standards, or if we are unable to find replacement providers in the event of a supply or service disruption, we could encounter supply shortages and incur higher costs to secure adequate supplies, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

        In addition, we use various third-party vendors to provide, support and maintain most of our management information systems. We also outsource certain accounting, payroll and human resource functions to business process service providers. The failure of such vendors to fulfill their obligations could disrupt our operations. Additionally, any changes we may make to the services we obtain from our vendors, or new vendors we employ, may disrupt our operations. These disruptions could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The effect of changes to healthcare laws in the United States may increase the number of employees who choose to participate in our healthcare plans, which may significantly increase our healthcare costs and negatively impact our financial results.

        In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (the "PPCA") was signed into law in the United States to require health care coverage for many uninsured individuals and expand coverage to those already insured. We currently offer and subsidize comprehensive healthcare coverage, primarily for our salaried employees. The healthcare reform law will require us to offer healthcare benefits to all full-time employees (including full-time hourly employees) that meet certain minimum requirements of

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coverage and affordability, or face penalties. If we elect to offer such benefits we may incur substantial additional expense. If we fail to offer such benefits, or the benefits we elect to offer do not meet the applicable requirements, we may incur penalties. The healthcare reform law also requires individuals to obtain coverage or face individual penalties, so employees who are currently eligible but elect not to participate in our healthcare plans may find it more advantageous to do so when such individual mandates take effect. It is also possible that by making changes or failing to make changes in the healthcare plans offered by us we will become less competitive in the market for our labor. Finally, implementing the requirements of healthcare reform is likely to impose additional administrative costs. The costs and other effects of these new healthcare requirements cannot be determined with certainty, but they may significantly increase our healthcare coverage costs and could materially adversely affect our, business, financial condition or results of operations.

Unionization activities or labor disputes may disrupt our operations and affect our profitability.

        Although none of our employees are currently covered under collective bargaining agreements, our employees may elect to be represented by labor unions in the future. If a significant number of our employees were to become unionized and collective bargaining agreement terms were significantly different from our current compensation arrangements, it could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, a labor dispute involving some or all of our employees may harm our reputation, disrupt our operations and reduce our revenues, and resolution of disputes may increase our costs.

        As an employer, we may be subject to various employment-related claims, such as individual or class actions or government enforcement actions relating to alleged employment discrimination, employee classification and related withholding, wage-hour, labor standards or healthcare and benefit issues. Such actions, if brought against us and successful in whole or in part, may affect our ability to compete or could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Changes in employment laws may adversely affect our business.

        Various federal and state labor laws govern the relationship with our employees and affect operating costs. These laws include employee classification as exempt/non-exempt for overtime and other purposes, minimum wage requirements, unemployment tax rates, workers' compensation rates, immigration status and other wage and benefit requirements. Significant additional government-imposed increases in the following areas could materially affect our business, financial condition, operating results or cash flow:

    minimum wages;

    mandatory health benefits;

    vacation accruals;

    paid leaves of absence, including paid sick leave; and

    tax reporting.

        In addition, various states in which we operate are considering or have already adopted new immigration laws or enforcement programs, and the U.S. Congress and Department of Homeland Security from time to time consider and may implement changes to federal immigration laws, regulations or enforcement programs as well. Some of these changes may increase our obligations for compliance and oversight, which could subject us to additional costs and make our hiring process more cumbersome, or reduce the availability of potential employees. Although we require all workers to provide us with government-specified documentation evidencing their employment eligibility, some of our employees may, without our knowledge, be unauthorized workers. We currently participate in the "E-Verify" program, an Internet-based, free program run by the United States government to verify employment eligibility, in

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states in which participation is required, and we plan to introduce its use throughout our restaurants. However, use of the "E-Verify" program does not guarantee that we will properly identify all applicants who are ineligible for employment. Unauthorized workers are subject to deportation and may subject us to fines or penalties, and if any of our workers are found to be unauthorized we could experience adverse publicity that negatively impacts our brand and may make it more difficult to hire and keep qualified employees. Termination of a significant number of employees who were unauthorized employees may disrupt our operations, cause temporary increases in our labor costs as we train new employees and result in additional adverse publicity. We could also become subject to fines, penalties and other costs related to claims that we did not fully comply with all recordkeeping obligations of federal and state immigration compliance laws. These factors could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We rely in part on our franchisees, and if our franchisees cannot develop or finance new restaurants, build them on suitable sites or open them on schedule, our growth and success may be affected.

        We rely in part on our franchisees and the manner in which they operate their locations to develop and promote our business. Although we have developed criteria to evaluate and screen prospective franchisees, we cannot be certain that our franchisees will have the business acumen or financial resources necessary to operate successful franchises in their franchise areas and state franchise laws may limit our ability to terminate or modify these franchise arrangements. Moreover, despite our training, support and monitoring, franchisees may not successfully operate restaurants in a manner consistent with our standards and requirements, or may not hire and train qualified managers and other restaurant personnel. The failure of our franchisees to operate their franchises successfully could have a material adverse effect on us, our reputation, our brand and our ability to attract prospective franchisees and could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

        Franchisees may not have access to the financial or management resources that they need to open the restaurants contemplated by their agreements with us, or be able to find suitable sites on which to develop them, or they may elect to cease development for other reasons. Franchisees may not be able to negotiate acceptable lease or purchase terms for the sites, obtain the necessary permits and government approvals or meet construction schedules. Any of these problems could slow our growth and reduce our franchise revenues. Additionally, our franchisees typically depend on financing from banks and other financial institutions, which may not always be available to them, in order to construct and open new restaurants. The lack of adequate financing could adversely affect the number and rate of new restaurant openings by our franchisees and adversely affect our future franchise revenues.

        A franchisee bankruptcy could have a substantial negative impact on our ability to collect payments due under such franchisee's franchise arrangements. In a franchisee bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee may reject its franchise arrangements pursuant to Section 365 under the United States bankruptcy code, in which case there would be no further royalty payments from such franchisee, and there can be no assurance as to the proceeds, if any, that may ultimately be recovered in a bankruptcy proceeding of such franchisee in connection with a damage claim resulting from such rejection.

Failure to support our expanding franchise system could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

        Our growth strategy depends in part on expanding our franchise network, which will require the implementation of enhanced business support systems, management information systems, financial controls and other systems and procedures as well as additional management, franchise support and financial resources. We may not be able to manage our expanding franchise system effectively. Failure to provide our franchisees with adequate support and resources could materially adversely affect both our new and existing franchisees as well as cause disputes between us and our franchisees and potentially lead to material liabilities. Any of the foregoing could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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We have limited control over our franchisees and our franchisees could take actions that could harm our business.

        Franchisees are independent contractors and are not our employees, and we do not exercise control over their day-to-day operations. We provide training and support to franchisees, but the quality of franchised restaurant operations may be diminished by any number of factors beyond our control. Consequently, franchisees may not successfully operate restaurants in a manner consistent with our standards and requirements, or may not hire and train qualified managers and other restaurant personnel. If franchisees do not meet our standards and requirements, our image and reputation, and the image and reputation of other franchisees, may suffer materially and system-wide sales could decline significantly.

        Franchisees, as independent business operators, may from time to time disagree with us and our strategies regarding the business or our interpretation of our, and their, rights and obligations under franchise and development agreements. This may lead to disputes with our franchisees in the future. These disputes may divert the attention of our management and our franchisees from operating our restaurants and affect our image and reputation and our ability to attract franchisees in the future, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

If we or our franchisees face labor shortages or increased labor costs, our growth and operating results could be adversely affected.

        Labor is a primary component in the cost of operating our restaurants. If we or our franchisees face labor shortages or increased labor costs because of increased competition for employees, higher employee turnover rates, increases in the federal, state or local minimum wage or other employee benefits costs (including costs associated with health insurance coverage), our operating expenses could increase and our growth could be adversely affected. In addition, our success depends in part upon our and our franchisees' ability to attract, motivate and retain a sufficient number of well-qualified restaurant operators and management personnel, as well as a sufficient number of other qualified employees, including guest service and kitchen staff, to keep pace with our expansion schedule. Qualified individuals needed to fill these positions are in short supply in some geographic areas. In addition, restaurants have traditionally experienced relatively high employee turnover rates. Although we have not yet experienced significant problems in recruiting or retaining employees, our and our franchisees' ability to recruit and retain such individuals may delay the planned openings of new restaurants or result in higher employee turnover in existing restaurants, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

        If we or our franchisees are unable to continue to recruit and retain sufficiently qualified individuals, our business and our growth could be adversely affected. Competition for these employees could require us or our franchisees to pay higher wages, which could result in higher labor costs. In addition increases in the minimum wage would increase our labor costs. Additionally, costs associated with workers' compensation are rising, and these costs may continue to rise in the future. We may be unable to increase our menu prices in order to pass these increased labor costs on to consumers, in which case our margins would be negatively affected, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We depend on the services of key executives, the loss of which could materially harm our business.

        Our senior executives have been instrumental in setting our strategic direction, operating our business, identifying, recruiting and training key personnel, identifying expansion opportunities and arranging necessary financing. Losing the services of any of these individuals could materially adversely affect our business until a suitable replacement is found. We believe that these individuals cannot easily be replaced with executives of equal experience and capabilities. Although we have employment agreements with our Chief Executive Officer and our President and Chief Operating Officer, we cannot prevent them from terminating their employment with us.

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Changes in economic conditions could materially affect our ability to maintain or increase sales at our restaurants or open new restaurants.

        The restaurant industry depends on consumer discretionary spending. The United States in general or the specific markets in which we operate may suffer from depressed economic activity, recessionary economic cycles, higher fuel or energy costs, low consumer confidence, high levels of unemployment, reduced home values, increases in home foreclosures, investment losses, personal bankruptcies, reduced access to credit or other economic factors that may affect consumers discretionary spending. Economic conditions may remain volatile and may continue to depress consumer confidence and discretionary spending for the near term. Traffic in our restaurants could decline if consumers choose to dine out less frequently or reduce the amount they spend on meals while dining out. Negative economic conditions might cause consumers to make long-term changes to their discretionary spending behavior, including dining out less frequently on a permanent basis. If restaurant sales decrease, our profitability could decline as we spread fixed costs across a lower level of sales. Reductions in staff levels, asset impairment charges and potential restaurant closures could result from prolonged negative restaurant sales, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Health concerns arising from outbreaks of viruses may have an adverse effect on our business.

        The United States and other countries have experienced, or may experience in the future, outbreaks of neurological diseases or other diseases or viruses, such as norovirus, influenza and H1N1. If a virus is transmitted by human contact, our employees or guests could become infected, or could choose, or be advised, to avoid gathering in public places, any one of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Changes in food and supply costs could adversely affect our results of operations.

        Our profitability depends in part on our ability to anticipate and react to changes in food and supply costs. Shortages or interruptions in the availability of certain supplies caused by unanticipated demand, problems in production or distribution, food contamination, inclement weather or other conditions could adversely affect the availability, quality and cost of our ingredients, which could harm our operations. Any increase in the prices of the food products most critical to our menu, such as pasta, beef, chicken, wheat flour, cheese and other dairy products, tofu and vegetables, could adversely affect our operating results. Although we try to manage the impact that these fluctuations have on our operating results, we remain susceptible to increases in food costs as a result of factors beyond our control, such as general economic conditions, seasonal fluctuations, weather conditions, demand, food safety concerns, generalized infectious diseases, product recalls and government regulations. For example, higher diesel prices have in some cases resulted in the imposition of surcharges on the delivery of commodities to our distributors, which they have generally passed on to us to the extent permitted under our arrangements with them.

        If any of our distributors or suppliers performs inadequately, or our distribution or supply relationships are disrupted for any reason, our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows could be adversely affected. Although we often enter into contracts for the purchase of food products and supplies, we do not have long-term contracts for the purchase of all of such food products and supplies. As a result, we may not be able to anticipate or react to changing food costs by adjusting our purchasing practices or menu prices, which could cause our operating results to deteriorate. If we cannot replace or engage distributors or suppliers who meet our specifications in a short period of time, that could increase our expenses and cause shortages of food and other items at our restaurants, which could cause a restaurant to remove items from its menu. If that were to happen, affected restaurants could experience significant reductions in sales during the shortage or thereafter, if guests change their dining habits as a result. Our focus on a limited menu would make the consequences of a shortage of a key ingredient more severe. In addition, because we provide moderately priced food, we may choose not to, or may be unable

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to, pass along commodity price increases to consumers. These potential changes in food and supply costs could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Failure to receive frequent deliveries of fresh food ingredients and other supplies could harm our operations.

        Our ability to maintain our menu depends in part on our ability to acquire ingredients that meet our specifications from reliable suppliers. We currently import ingredients from many different countries. Shortages or interruptions in the supply of ingredients caused by unanticipated demand, problems in production or distribution, food contamination, inclement weather or other conditions could adversely affect the availability, quality and cost of our ingredients, which could harm our operations. If any of our distributors or suppliers performs inadequately, or our distribution or supply relationships are disrupted for any reason, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be adversely affected. If we cannot replace or engage distributors or suppliers who meet our specifications in a short period of time, that could increase our expenses and cause shortages of food and other items at our restaurants, which could cause a restaurant to remove items from its menu. If that were to happen, affected restaurants could experience significant reductions in sales during the shortage or thereafter, if guests change their dining habits as a result. Our focus on a limited menu would make the consequences of a shortage of a key ingredient more severe. This reduction in sales could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

New information or attitudes regarding diet and health could result in changes in regulations and consumer consumption habits that could adversely affect our results of operations.

        Regulations and consumer eating habits may change as a result of new information or attitudes regarding diet and health. Such changes may include federal, state and local regulations that impact the ingredients and nutritional content of the food and beverages we offer. The success of our restaurant operations is dependent, in part, upon our ability to effectively respond to changes in any consumer health regulations and our ability to adapt our menu offerings to trends in food consumption. If consumer health regulations or consumer eating habits change significantly, we may choose or be required to modify or delete certain menu items, which may adversely affect the attractiveness of our restaurants to new or returning guests. To the extent we are unwilling or unable to respond with appropriate changes to our menu offerings, it could materially affect consumer demand and have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

        Government regulation and consumer eating habits may impact our business as a result of changes in attitudes regarding diet and health or new information regarding the adverse health effects of consuming certain menu offerings. These changes have resulted in, and may continue to result in, laws and regulations requiring us to disclose the nutritional content of our food offerings, and they have resulted, and may continue to result in, laws and regulations affecting permissible ingredients and menu offerings. For example, a number of states, counties and cities have enacted menu labeling laws requiring multi-unit restaurant operators to disclose to consumers certain nutritional information, or have enacted legislation restricting the use of certain types of ingredients in restaurants. These requirements may be different or inconsistent with requirements under the PPACA, which establishes a uniform, federal requirement for certain restaurants to post nutritional information on their menus. Specifically, the PPACA requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations operating under the same name and offering substantially the same menus to publish the total number of calories of standard menu items on menus and menu boards, along with a statement that puts this calorie information in the context of a total daily calorie intake. These inconsistencies could be challenging for us to comply with in an efficient manner. The PPACA also requires covered restaurants to provide to consumers, upon request, a written summary of detailed nutritional information for each standard menu item, and to provide a statement on menus and menu boards about the availability of this information upon request. An unfavorable report on, or reaction to,

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our menu ingredients, the size of our portions or the nutritional content of our menu items could negatively influence the demand for our offerings.

        Compliance with current and future laws and regulations regarding the ingredients and nutritional content of our menu items may be costly and time-consuming. Additionally, if consumer health regulations or consumer eating habits change significantly, we may be required to modify or discontinue certain menu items, and we may experience higher costs associated with the implementation of those changes. We cannot predict the impact of the new nutrition labeling requirements under the PPACA until final regulations are promulgated. The risks and costs associated with nutritional disclosures on our menus could also impact our operations, particularly given differences among applicable legal requirements and practices within the restaurant industry with respect to testing and disclosure, ordinary variations in food preparation among our own restaurants, and the need to rely on the accuracy and completeness of nutritional information obtained from third-party suppliers.

        We may not be able to effectively respond to changes in consumer health perceptions or our ability to successfully implement the nutrient content disclosure requirements and to adapt our menu offerings to trends in eating habits. The imposition of menu labeling laws could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations, as well as our position within the restaurant industry in general.

We expect to need capital in the future, and we may not be able to raise that capital on acceptable terms.

        Developing our business will require significant capital in the future. To meet our capital needs, we expect to rely on our cash flow from operations, the proceeds from this offering and other third-party financing. Third-party financing in the future may not, however, be available on terms favorable to us, or at all. Our ability to obtain additional funding will be subject to various factors, including market conditions, our operating performance, lender sentiment and our ability to incur additional debt in compliance with other contractual restrictions such as financial covenants under our credit facility or other debt documents. These factors may make the timing, amount, terms and conditions of additional financings unattractive. Our inability to raise capital could impede our growth and could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We are subject to all of the risks associated with leasing space subject to long-term non-cancelable leases.

        We do not own any real property. Payments under our operating leases account for a significant portion of our operating expenses and we expect the new restaurants we open in the future will similarly be leased. Our leases generally have an initial term of ten years and generally can be extended only in five-year increments (at increased rates). All of our leases require a fixed annual rent, although some require the payment of additional rent if restaurant sales exceed a negotiated amount. Generally, our leases are "net" leases, which require us to pay all of the cost of insurance, taxes, maintenance and utilities. We generally cannot cancel these leases. Additional sites that we lease are likely to be subject to similar long-term non-cancelable leases. If an existing or future restaurant is not profitable, and we decide to close it, we may nonetheless be committed to perform our obligations under the applicable lease including, among other things, paying the base rent for the balance of the lease term. In addition, as each of our leases expires, we may fail to negotiate renewals, either on commercially acceptable terms or at all, which could cause us to pay increased occupancy costs or to close restaurants in desirable locations. These potential increased occupancy costs and closed restaurants could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which could harm the value of our brand and adversely affect our business.

        Our intellectual property is material to the conduct of our business. Our ability to implement our business plan successfully depends in part on our ability to further build brand recognition using our trademarks, service marks, trade dress and other proprietary intellectual property, including our name and logos and the unique ambience of our restaurants. While it is our policy to protect and defend vigorously our rights to our intellectual property, we cannot predict whether steps taken by us to protect our intellectual property rights will be adequate to prevent misappropriation of these rights or the use by others of restaurant features based upon, or otherwise similar to, our concept. It may be difficult for us to prevent others from copying elements of our concept and any litigation to enforce our rights will likely be costly and may not be successful. Although we believe that we have sufficient rights to all of our trademarks and service marks, we may face claims of infringement that could interfere with our ability to market our restaurants and promote our brand. Any such litigation may be costly and divert resources from our business. Moreover, if we are unable to successfully defend against such claims, we may be prevented from using our trademarks or service marks in the future and may be liable for damages, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We may incur costs resulting from breaches of security of confidential consumer information related to our electronic processing of credit and debit card transactions.

        The majority of our restaurant sales are by credit or debit cards. Other restaurants and retailers have experienced security breaches in which credit and debit card information has been stolen. We may in the future become subject to claims for purportedly fraudulent transactions arising out of the actual or alleged theft of credit or debit card information, and we may also be subject to lawsuits or other proceedings relating to these types of incidents. Any such claim or proceeding could cause us to incur significant unplanned expenses, which could have an adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations. Further, adverse publicity resulting from these allegations may have a material adverse effect on us and our restaurants.

We rely heavily on information technology, and any material failure, weakness, interruption or breach of security could prevent us from effectively operating our business.

        We rely heavily on information systems, including point-of-sale processing in our restaurants, for management of our supply chain, payment of obligations, collection of cash, credit and debit card transactions and other processes and procedures. Our ability to efficiently and effectively manage our business depends significantly on the reliability and capacity of these systems. The failure of these systems to operate effectively, maintenance problems, upgrading or transitioning to new platforms, or a breach in security of these systems could result in delays in guest service and reduce efficiency in our operations. Remediation of such problems could result in significant, unplanned capital investments.

We could be party to litigation that could adversely affect us by distracting management, increasing our expenses or subjecting us to material money damages and other remedies.

        Our guests occasionally file complaints or lawsuits against us alleging we caused an illness or injury they suffered at or after a visit to our restaurants, or that we have problems with food quality or operations. We are also subject to a variety of other claims arising in the ordinary course of our business, including personal injury claims, contract claims and claims alleging violations of federal and state law regarding workplace and employment matters, equal opportunity, discrimination and similar matters, and we could become subject to class action or other lawsuits related to these or different matters in the future. Regardless of whether any claims against us are valid, or whether we are ultimately held liable, claims may be expensive to defend and may divert time and money away from our operations and hurt our performance. A judgment in excess of our insurance coverage for any claims could materially and adversely

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affect our financial condition or results of operations. Any adverse publicity resulting from these allegations may also materially and adversely affect our reputation or prospects, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

        We are subject to state and local "dram shop" statutes, which may subject us to uninsured liabilities. These statutes generally allow a person injured by an intoxicated person to recover damages from an establishment that wrongfully served alcoholic beverages to the intoxicated person. Because a plaintiff may seek punitive damages, which may not be fully covered by insurance, this type of action could have an adverse impact on our financial condition or results of operations. A judgment in such an action significantly in excess of, or not covered by, our insurance coverage could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. Further, adverse publicity resulting from any such allegations may adversely affect us and our restaurants taken as a whole.

        In addition, the restaurant industry has been subject to a growing number of claims based on the nutritional content of food products sold and disclosure and advertising practices. We may also be subject to this type of proceeding in the future and, even if we are not, publicity about these matters (particularly directed at the quick-service or fast casual segments of the industry) may harm our reputation and could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our current insurance may not provide adequate levels of coverage against claims.

        There are types of losses we may incur that cannot be insured against or that we believe are not economically reasonable to insure. Such losses could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. In addition, we self-insure a significant portion of expected losses under our workers' compensation, general liability, employee health and property insurance programs. Unanticipated changes in the actuarial assumptions and management estimates underlying our reserves for these losses could result in materially different amounts of expense under these programs, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and liquidity. As a public company, we intend to enhance our existing directors' and officers' insurance. While we expect to obtain such coverage, we may not be able to obtain such coverage at all or at a reasonable cost now or in the future. Failure to obtain and maintain adequate directors' and officers' insurance would likely adversely affect our ability to attract and retain qualified officers and directors.

Failure to obtain and maintain required licenses and permits or to comply with alcoholic beverage or food control regulations could lead to the loss of our liquor and food service licenses and, thereby, harm our business.

        The restaurant industry is subject to various federal, state and local government regulations, including those relating to the sale of food and alcoholic beverages. Such regulations are subject to change from time to time. The failure to obtain and maintain these licenses, permits and approvals could adversely affect our operating results. Typically, licenses must be renewed annually and may be revoked, suspended or denied renewal for cause at any time if governmental authorities determine that our conduct violates applicable regulations. Difficulties or failure to maintain or obtain the required licenses and approvals could adversely affect our existing restaurants and delay or result in our decision to cancel the opening of new restaurants, which would adversely affect our business.

        Alcoholic beverage control regulations generally require our restaurants to apply to a state authority and, in certain locations, county or municipal authorities for a license that must be renewed annually and may be revoked or suspended for cause at any time. Alcoholic beverage control regulations relate to numerous aspects of daily operations of our restaurants, including minimum age of patrons and employees, hours of operation, advertising, trade practices, wholesale purchasing, other relationships with alcohol manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, inventory control and handling, storage and dispensing of alcoholic beverages. Any future failure to comply with these regulations and obtain or retain liquor licenses could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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Changes to accounting rules or regulations may adversely affect our results of operations.

        Changes to existing accounting rules or regulations may impact our future results of operations or cause the perception that we are more highly leveraged. Other new accounting rules or regulations and varying interpretations of existing accounting rules or regulations have occurred and may occur in the future. For instance, accounting regulatory authorities have indicated that they may begin to require lessees to capitalize operating leases in their financial statements in the next few years. If adopted, such change would require us to record significant capital lease obligations on our balance sheet and make other changes to our financial statements. This and other future changes to accounting rules or regulations could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We will incur increased costs as a result of being a public company.

        As a public company, we expect to incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company, particularly after we are no longer an "emerging growth company" as defined under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the "JOBS Act"). In addition, new and changing laws, regulations and standards relating to corporate governance and public disclosure, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the rules and regulations promulgated and to be promulgated thereunder, as well as under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended (the "Sarbanes-Oxley Act"), and the JOBS Act, have created uncertainty for public companies and increased costs and time that boards of directors and management must devote to complying with these rules and regulations. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and related rules of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, and the Nasdaq Stock Market and the New York Stock Exchange regulate corporate governance practices of public companies. We expect compliance with these rules and regulations to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and lead to a diversion of management time and attention from revenue generating activities. For example, we will be required to adopt new internal controls and disclosure controls and procedures. In addition, we will incur additional expenses associated with our SEC reporting requirements.

        For as long as we remain an "emerging growth company" as defined in the JOBS Act, we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not "emerging growth companies." These exceptions provide for, but are not limited to, relief from the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, less extensive disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements, exemptions from the requirements to hold a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved and an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards. We may take advantage of these reporting exemptions until we are no longer an "emerging growth company." We may remain an "emerging growth company" for up to five years. To the extent we use exemptions from various reporting requirements under the JOBS Act, we may be unable to realize our anticipated cost savings from those exemptions.

Pursuant to the recently enacted JOBS Act, our independent registered public accounting firm will not be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for so long as we are an "emerging growth company."

        Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires annual management assessments of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, starting with the second annual report that we file with the SEC as a public company, and generally requires in the same report a report by our independent registered public accounting firm on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. However, under the recently enacted JOBS Act, our independent registered public accounting firm will not be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting pursuant to

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Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act until we are no longer an "emerging growth company." We could be an "emerging growth company" for up to five years.

        In addition, Section 107 of the JOBS Act also provides that an "emerging growth company" can take advantage of the extended transition period provided in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. An "emerging growth company" can therefore delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. However, we are choosing to "opt out" of such extended transition period and, as a result, we will comply with new or revised accounting standards on the relevant dates on which adoption of such standards is required for non-emerging growth companies. Section 107 of the JOBS Act provides that our decision to opt out of the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards is irrevocable.

Risks Related to Ownership of Our Class A Common Stock

        In this prospectus, we refer to our Class A common stock as "common stock," unless the context otherwise requires.

There is no existing market for our common stock and we do not know if one will develop. Even if a market does develop, the stock prices in the market may not exceed the offering price.

        Prior to this offering, there has not been a public market for our common stock or any of our equity interests. We cannot predict the extent to which investor interest in our company will lead to the development of an active trading market on the Nasdaq Stock Market or the New York Stock Exchange, or how liquid that market may become. An active public market for our common stock may not develop or be sustained after the offering. If an active trading market does not develop or is not sustained, you may have difficulty selling any shares that you buy.

        The initial public offering price for the common stock will be determined by negotiations among us and the representatives of the underwriters and may not be indicative of prices that will prevail in the open market following this offering. Consequently, you may not be able to sell shares of our common stock at prices equal to or greater than the price you pay in this offering.

Our quarterly operating results may fluctuate significantly and could fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors due to seasonality and other factors, some of which are beyond our control, resulting in a decline in our stock price.

        Our quarterly operating results may fluctuate significantly because of several factors, including:

    the timing of new restaurant openings and related expense;

    restaurant operating costs for our newly-opened restaurants, which are often materially greater during the first several months of operation than thereafter;

    labor availability and costs for hourly and management personnel;

    profitability of our restaurants, especially in new markets;

    changes in interest rates;

    increases and decreases in AUVs and comparable restaurant sales;

    impairment of long-lived assets and any loss on restaurant closures;

    macroeconomic conditions, both nationally and locally;

    negative publicity relating to the consumption of seafood or other products we serve;

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    changes in consumer preferences and competitive conditions;

    expansion to new markets;

    increases in infrastructure costs; and

    fluctuations in commodity prices.

        Seasonal factors and the timing of holidays also cause our revenue to fluctuate from quarter to quarter. Our revenue per restaurant is typically lower in the first and fourth quarters due to reduced winter and holiday traffic and higher in the second and third quarters. As a result of these factors, our quarterly and annual operating results and comparable restaurant sales may fluctuate significantly. Accordingly, results for any one quarter are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected for any other quarter or for any year and comparable restaurant sales for any particular future period may decrease. In the future, operating results may fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors. In that event, the price of our common stock would likely decrease.

The price of our common stock may be volatile and you may lose all or part of your investment.

        The market price of our common stock could fluctuate significantly, and you may not be able to resell your shares at or above the offering price. Those fluctuations could be based on various factors in addition to those otherwise described in this prospectus, including those described under "—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry" and the following:

    our operating performance and the performance of our competitors or restaurant companies in general;

    the public's reaction to our press releases, our other public announcements and our filings with the SEC;

    changes in earnings estimates or recommendations by research analysts who follow us or other companies in our industry;

    global, national or local economic, legal and regulatory factors unrelated to our performance;

    the number of shares to be publicly traded after this offering;

    future sales of our common stock by our officers, directors and significant stockholders;

    the arrival or departure of key personnel; and

    other developments affecting us, our industry or our competitors.

        In addition, in recent years the stock market has experienced significant price and volume fluctuations. These fluctuations may be unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. These broad market fluctuations may cause declines in the market price of our common stock. The price of our common stock could fluctuate based upon factors that have little or nothing to do with our business, financial condition or results of operations, and those fluctuations could materially reduce our common stock price.

Future sales of our common stock, or the perception that such sales may occur, could depress our common stock price.

        Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that such sales may occur, following this offering could depress the market price of our common stock. Our sponsors, executive officers and directors and certain other equity holders have agreed with the underwriters not to offer, sell, dispose of or hedge any shares of common stock or securities convertible into or exchangeable for shares of common stock, subject to specified limited exceptions and extensions

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described elsewhere in this prospectus, during the period ending 180 days (subject to extension) after the date of the final prospectus, except with the prior written consent on behalf of the underwriters. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation will authorize us to issue up to            shares of common stock, of which            shares will be outstanding and             shares will be issuable upon the exercise of outstanding stock options. Of the outstanding shares,            shares will be freely tradable after the expiration date of the lock-up agreements, excluding any acquired by persons who may be deemed to be our affiliates. Shares of our common stock held by our affiliates will continue to be subject to the volume and other restrictions of Rule 144 under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, or the Securities Act. The underwriters may, in their sole discretion and at any time without notice, release all or any portion of the shares subject to the lock-up. See "Underwriting."

        In addition, immediately following this offering, we intend to file a registration statement registering under the Securities Act the shares of common stock reserved for issuance under our 2010 Stock Incentive Plan and our Employee Stock Purchase Plan. See the information under the heading "Shares Eligible for Future Sale" for a more detailed description of the shares that will be available for future sales upon completion of this offering.

If you purchase shares of our common stock sold in this offering, you will incur immediate and substantial dilution.

        If you purchase shares of our common stock in this offering, you will incur immediate and substantial dilution in the amount of $            per share because the initial public offering price of $            is substantially higher than the pro forma net tangible book value per share of our outstanding common stock. This dilution is due in large part to the fact that our earlier investors paid substantially less than the initial public offering price when they purchased their shares. In addition, you may also experience additional dilution upon future equity issuances or the exercise of stock options to purchase common stock granted to our employees, and directors under our stock option and equity incentive plans. See "Dilution."

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

        The trading market for our common stock will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. We do not currently have and may never obtain research coverage by securities and industry analysts. If no securities or industry analysts commence coverage of our company, the trading price for our common stock would be negatively impacted. If we obtain securities or industry analyst coverage and if one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrades our common stock or publishes inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of us or fails to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our common stock could decrease, which could cause our stock prices and trading volume to decline.

Our principal stockholders and their affiliates own a substantial portion of our outstanding equity, and their interests may not always coincide with the interests of the other holders.

        As of April 2, 2013, Catterton, certain of its affiliates and Argentia beneficially owned in the aggregate shares representing approximately 86% of our outstanding voting power, assuming no conversion of Class B common stock into common stock. Persons associated with Catterton, Argentia and PSPIB currently serve and, following the offering, will continue to serve on our board of directors. Contemporaneous with the closing of this offering, Argentia may convert a portion of its shares of Class B common stock into common stock (the "Argentia Conversion") such that following such conversion, Argentia will beneficially own, in the aggregate, shares representing approximately        % of the common stock. After this offering, Catterton and certain of its affiliates will beneficially own, in the aggregate, shares representing approximately        % of our outstanding equity interests and approximately        % of our outstanding voting power, after giving effect to the Argentia Conversion. If the underwriters exercise

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their over-allotment option in full, after this offering, Catterton and certain of its affiliates will beneficially own, in the aggregate, shares representing approximately        % of our outstanding equity interests and approximately        % of our outstanding voting power, after giving effect to the Argentia Conversion. After this offering, Argentia will beneficially own, in the aggregate, shares representing approximately        % of our outstanding equity interests and approximately        % of our outstanding voting power, after giving effect to the Argentia Conversion. If the underwriters exercise their over-allotment option in full, after this offering, Argentia will beneficially own, in the aggregate, shares representing approximately         % of our outstanding equity interests and approximately        % of our outstanding voting power, after giving effect to the Argentia Conversion. As a result, Catterton, certain of its affiliates and Argentia could potentially have significant influence over all matters presented to our stockholders for approval, including election and removal of our directors and change in control transactions. The interests of Catterton, certain of its affiliates and Argentia may not always coincide with the interests of the other holders of our common stock.

We do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future.

        We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock, except for the Class C common stock dividend paid to Argentia, the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock. In connection with this offering, no dividend on the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock will be paid. For the foreseeable future, we intend to retain any earnings to finance the development and expansion of our business, and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock. See "Dividend Policy" and "Certain Relationships and Related Transactions."

Provisions in our charter documents and Delaware law may delay or prevent our acquisition by a third party.

        Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws, and Delaware law, contain several provisions that may make it more difficult for a third party to acquire control of us without the approval of our board of directors. For example, we will have a classified board of directors with three-year staggered terms, which could delay the ability of stockholders to change membership of a majority of our board of directors. These provisions may make it more difficult or expensive for a third party to acquire a majority of our outstanding equity interests. These provisions also may delay, prevent or deter a merger, acquisition, tender offer, proxy contest or other transaction that might otherwise result in our stockholders receiving a premium over the market price for their common stock. See "Description of Capital Stock."

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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

        This prospectus contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements are contained principally in "Prospectus Summary," "Risk Factors," "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and "Business." In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terms such as "may," "might," "will," "objective," "intend," "should," "could," "can," "would," "expect," "believe," "design," "estimate," "predict," "potential," "plan" or the negative of these terms, and similar expressions intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements reflect our current views with respect to future events and are based on assumptions and subject to risks and uncertainties. Given these uncertainties, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:

    our ability to successfully maintain increases in our comparable restaurant sales and AUVs;

    our ability to successfully execute our growth strategy and open new restaurants that are profitable;

    our projected growth in the number of our restaurants;

    current economic conditions and other economic factors;

    our ability to compete with many other restaurants;

    our reliance on vendors, suppliers and distributors;

    concerns regarding food safety and foodborne illness;

    changes in consumer preferences;

    minimum wage increases and mandated employee benefits that could cause a significant increase in our labor costs;

    failure to secure guests' confidential or credit card information or other private data relating to our employees or our company; and

    the impact of governmental laws and regulations.

        These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performances or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

        We discuss many of these risks in this prospectus in greater detail under the heading "Risk Factors." Also, these forward-looking statements represent our estimates and assumptions only as of the date of this prospectus. Unless required by United States federal securities laws, we do not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the statement is made.

        The market data and certain other statistical information used throughout this prospectus are based on independent industry publications, governmental publications, reports by market research firms or other independent sources. Some data are also based on our good faith estimates. Although we believe these third-party sources are reliable, we have not independently verified the information attributed to these third-party sources and cannot guarantee its accuracy and completeness. Similarly, our estimates have not been verified by any independent source.

        You should read this prospectus and the documents that we reference in this prospectus and have filed as exhibits to the registration statement, of which this prospectus is a part, completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.

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USE OF PROCEEDS

        We estimate that the net proceeds we receive from this offering will be approximately $             million based on the assumed initial public offering price of $            per share, which is the midpoint of the range included on the cover page of this prospectus after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. If the underwriters' option to purchase additional shares in this offering from us is exercised, our estimated net proceeds will be approximately $             million after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us. A $1.00 increase or decrease in the assumed initial public offering price of $            per share would increase or decrease the net proceeds we receive from this offering by approximately $             million, assuming the number of shares offered by us as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus remains the same and after deducting the estimated underwriter discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

        We intend to use approximately $             million of the net proceeds we receive from this offering to repay borrowings under our credit facility, which has a maturity date of August 1, 2017 and had an outstanding balance of approximately $100.3 million as of April 2, 2013. As of April 2, 2013, the balance outstanding under our senior term loan was $73.5 million, which bore interest from 3.6% to 3.8% per year and the balance under our revolving line of credit was $26.8 million, which bore interest from 3.8% to 5.5% per year. We intend to use any remaining proceeds for working capital and other general corporate purposes. Affiliates of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated are lenders under our credit facility, and therefore, will receive a portion of the net proceeds of this offering.

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DIVIDEND POLICY

        No dividends have been declared or paid on our shares of equity interests, except for the Class C common stock dividend paid to the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock. The one outstanding share of Class C common stock will be redeemed at the closing of this offering. We do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on shares of our Class A common stock, or any of our equity interests, in the foreseeable future. We currently intend to retain any earnings to finance the development and expansion of our business. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will be dependent upon then-existing conditions, including our earnings, capital requirements, results of operations, financial condition, business prospects and other factors that our board of directors considers relevant. See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and "Certain Relationships and Related Transactions" for additional information regarding our financial condition.

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CAPITALIZATION

        The following table sets forth our capitalization as of April 2, 2013:

    on an actual basis,

    on a pro forma basis, giving effect to the reclassification of the common stock subject to put options of $3.6 million as of April 2, 2013 to additional paid-in capital and retained earnings, due to the termination of the put rights upon this offering, and

    on an as adjusted basis, giving effect to the following transactions as if they occurred on April 2, 2013:

    (i) a reverse stock split of 1-for-                    of our shares of Class A common stock, which we refer to in this prospectus as our "common stock," and our shares of Class B common stock, effective immediately prior to the completion of this offering and (ii) the redemption of the one share of our outstanding Class C common stock that will occur upon the closing of this offering;

    the effectiveness of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws included as exhibits to the registration statement of which this prospectus forms a part, which we will adopt prior to the completion of this offering;

    excludes (i) 5,104,673 shares of common stock issuable on a pre-reverse split basis upon the exercise of stock options outstanding as of April 2, 2013 and (ii)                         shares of our common stock reserved for future grants under our stock option and stock incentive plans;

    no exercise of the warrant to purchase up to 150,000 shares on a pre-reverse split basis of our Class B common stock held by Fahrenheit 212, LLC, and no change to the 10,905,789 shares of Class B common stock outstanding as of April 2, 2013 other than the reverse stock split described above; and

    (i) no exercise by the underwriters of their option to purchase up to                        additional shares from us and (ii) an initial public offering price of $                per share, the midpoint of the price range set forth on the cover of this prospectus.

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        You should read the following table in conjunction with the sections entitled "Use of Proceeds," "Selected Consolidated Financial and Other Data," "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this prospectus.

 
  As of April 2, 2013  
 
  Actual   Pro-Forma   As Adjusted  
 
  (in thousands, except share and
per share data)

 

Cash and cash equivalents

  $ 978   $ 978        
               

Debt, including current portion:

                   

Credit facility(1)

    100,259     100,259        
               

Total long-term debt

    100,259     100,259        

Temporary equity

                   

Common stock subject to put options

    3,601          

Stockholders' Equity:

                   

Preferred stock, $0.01 par value per share (5,000,000 and                shares authorized, zero and zero shares issued and outstanding, actual and as adjusted)

             

Class A common stock, $0.01 par value per share (47,000,000 and                shares authorized, 29,369,746 and                shares issued and outstanding, actual and as adjusted)

    294     294        

Class B common stock, $0.01 par value per share; (12,000,000 and                shares authorized, 10,905,789 and                shares issued and outstanding, actual and as adjusted)(2)

    109     109        

Class C common stock, $0.01 par value per share (one and zero shares authorized, one and zero shares issued and outstanding, actual and as adjusted)

             

Additional paid-in capital

    7,803     10,375      

Accumulated other comprehensive loss, net of tax

               

Retained earnings

    3,538     4,567      
               

Total stockholders' equity

    11,744     15,345      
               

Total capitalization

  $ 116,582   $ 116,582        
               

(1)
We intend to use approximately $         million of the net proceeds from this offering to repay a portion of the borrowings under our credit facility. See "Use of Proceeds."

(2)
The rights of the holders of our Class A common stock and our Class B common stock are identical in all respects, except that our Class B common stock does not vote on the election or removal of directors unless converted on a share-for-share basis into Class A common stock.

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DILUTION

        Currently we have, and upon completion of this offering we will have, two classes of equity interests issued and outstanding: Class A common stock, which is being sold in this offering and to which we refer in this prospectus as "common stock," and Class B common stock. Dilution is the amount by which the initial public offering price paid by purchasers of shares of our equity interests exceeds the net tangible book value per share of our equity interests immediately following the completion of the offering. Net tangible book value represents the amount of our total tangible assets reduced by our total liabilities. Net tangible book value per share represents our net tangible book value divided by the number of shares of our equity interests outstanding. As of April 2, 2013, prior to giving effect to the offering, our net tangible book value was $11.5 million and our net tangible book value per share was $0.29.

        After giving effect to the issuance and sale of the                        shares of common stock offered in this offering and the application of the proceeds of the offering received by us, as described in "Use of Proceeds," based upon an assumed initial public offering price of $            per share, the midpoint of the range set forth on the cover of this prospectus, our net tangible book value as of April 2, 2013 would have been approximately $             million, or $            per share of equity interest. This represents an immediate increase in net tangible book value to our existing stockholders of $            per share and an immediate dilution to new investors in this offering of $            per share. The following table illustrates this per share dilution net tangible book value to new investors after giving effect to this offering:

Assumed initial public offering price per share

        $    

Net tangible book value per share as of April 2, 2013

  $ 0.29        

Increase in net tangible book value per share attributable to new investors

  $          
             

Adjusted net tangible book value per share after this offering

        $    
             

Dilution per share to new investors

        $    
             

        A $1.00 increase (decrease) in the assumed initial public offering price of $            per share would increase (decrease) our net tangible book value by $             million, the net tangible book value per share after this offering by $            and the dilution per share to new investors by $            , assuming the number of shares offered by us, as set forth on the cover page of this prospectus, remains the same, and after deducting the estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by us.

 
  Shares Purchased   Total Consideration    
 
 
  Average
Price
Per Share
 
 
  Number   Percent   Amount   Percent  

Existing stockholders

            % $         % $    

New investors

                               
                       

Total

          100.0 % $       100.0 %      
                       

        The foregoing table does not reflect options outstanding under our stock option plans or stock options to be granted after the offering. As of April 2, 2013, there were 5,104,673 options outstanding with a weighted average exercise price of $5.24 per share on a pre-reverse split basis.

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SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

        The following table summarizes the consolidated historical financial and operating data for the periods indicated. The statements of income data for the fiscal years ended January 1, 2013, January 3, 2012 and December 28, 2010 and the balance sheet data as of January 1, 2013 and January 3, 2012 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus, and the statements of income data from the fiscal years ended December 29, 2009 and December 30, 2008 and the balance sheet data as of December 28, 2010, December 29, 2009 and December 30, 2008 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included in this prospectus. The statements of income data for the quarters ended April 2, 2013 and April 3, 2012 and the balance sheet data as of April 2, 2013 have been derived from our unaudited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this prospectus. The balance sheet data as of April 3, 2012 have been derived from our unaudited consolidated financial statements not included in this prospectus. The financial data presented includes all normal and recurring adjustments that we consider necessary for a fair presentation of the financial position and results of operations for such periods.

        The historical results presented below are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected for any future period. This information should be read in conjunction with "Risk Factors," "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this prospectus.

        We operate on a 52 or 53 week fiscal year ending on the Tuesday closest to December 31. Fiscal year 2011, which ended on January 3, 2012, contained 53 weeks, and all other fiscal years presented below contained 52 weeks. We refer to our fiscal years as 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. Our fiscal quarters each contain thirteen weeks, with the exception of the fourth quarter of a 53 week fiscal year, which contains fourteen weeks.

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  December 29,
2009
  December 30,
2008
  April 2,
2013
(unaudited)
  April 3,
2012
(unaudited)
 
 
  (in thousands, except share and per share data)
 

Statements of Income Data:

                                           

Revenue:

                                           

Restaurant revenue

  $ 297,264   $ 253,467   $ 218,560   $ 190,175   $ 168,534   $ 80,518   $ 69,198  

Franchising royalties and fees

    3,146     2,599     2,272     2,293     1,908     762     690  
                               

Total revenue

    300,410     256,066     220,832     192,468     170,442     81,280     69,888  

Costs and Expenses:

                                           

Restaurant Operating Costs (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below):

                                           

Cost of sales

    78,997     66,419     56,869     51,487     45,707     21,301     18,230  

Labor

    89,435     75,472     64,942     56,581     49,775     24,830     20,753  

Occupancy

    29,323     25,208     21,650     18,652     15,707     8,359     6,936  

Other restaurant operating costs

    39,241     34,652     29,784     26,074     23,518     11,060     9,553  

General and administrative(1)

    26,220     23,842     24,921     19,259     18,740     7,235     6,442  

Depreciation and amortization

    16,719     14,501     13,932     13,315     11,283     4,801     3,732  

Pre-opening

    3,145     2,327     2,088     1,780     2,401     921     581  

Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments             

    1,278     1,629     2,815     1,070     1,273     201     180  
                               

Total costs and expenses

    284,358     244,050     217,001     188,218     168,404     78,708     66,407  
                               

Income from operations

    16,052     12,016     3,831     4,250     2,038     2,572     3,481  

Debt extinguishment expense

    2,646     275                      

Interest expense

    5,028     6,132     1,819     1,840     1,342     1,053     1,284  
                               

Income before income taxes

    8,378     5,609     2,012     2,410     696     1,519     2,197  

Provision (benefit) for income taxes

    3,215     1,780     (366 )   1,343     553     595     906  
                               

Net income

  $ 5,163   $ 3,829   $ 2,378   $ 1,067   $ 143   $ 924   $ 1,291  
                               

Earnings per Class A and Class B common share, combined:

                                           

Basic

  $ 0.13   $ 0.10   $ 0.06   $ 0.03     *   $ 0.02   $ 0.03  

Diluted

  $ 0.13   $ 0.10   $ 0.05   $ 0.03     *   $ 0.02   $ 0.03  

Weighted average Class A and Class B common shares outstanding, combined:

                                           

Basic

    40,275,536     40,273,306     42,263,534     42,219,853     42,032,607     40,275,536     40,275,536  

Diluted

    40,321,564     40,273,306     43,720,951     42,281,276     42,334,386     41,026,517     40,278,762  

                                           

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  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  December 29,
2009
  December 30,
2008
  April 2,
2013
(unaudited)
  April 3,
2012
(unaudited)
 
 
  (in thousands, except share and per share data)
 

Selected Operating Data:

                                           

Company-owned restaurants at end of period

    276     239     212     186     166     284     245  

Franchise-owned restaurants at end of period

    51     45     43     43     37     51     45  

Company-owned:

                                           

Average unit volumes(2)

  $ 1,178   $ 1,147   $ 1,126   $ 1,098   $ 1,125   $ 1,180   $ 1,161  

Comparable restaurant sales(3)

    5.2 %   4.2 %   3.2 %   0.4 %   5.6 %   2.2 %   6.8 %

Restaurant contribution(4)

  $ 60,268   $ 51,716   $ 45,315   $ 37,381   $ 33,827   $ 14,968   $ 13,726  

as a percentage of restaurant revenue

    20.3 %   20.4 %   20.7 %   19.7 %   20.1 %   18.6 %   19.8 %

EBITDA(5)

  $ 30,125   $ 26,242   $ 17,763   $ 17,565   $ 13,321   $ 7,373   $ 7,213  

Adjusted EBITDA(5)

  $ 36,283   $ 30,488   $ 26,472   $ 20,375   $ 16,681   $ 8,187   $ 7,952  

as a percentage of revenue

    12.1 %   11.9 %   12.0 %   10.6 %   9.8 %   10.1 %   11.4 %

 

 
  As of  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  December 29,
2009
  December 30,
2008
  April 2,
2013
  April 3,
2012
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Balance Sheet Data(6):

                                           

Total current assets

  $ 16,154   $ 12,879   $ 214,498   $ 8,727   $ 11,174   $ 17,367   $ 12,246  

Total assets

    156,995     126,325     311,148     95,764     88,579     166,054     131,177  

Total current liabilities

    23,760     20,557     213,664     17,342     16,128     24,860     21,026  

Total long-term debt

    93,731     77,523     77,030     33,838     34,488     99,509     80,153  

Total liabilities

    142,987     118,802     309,070     67,214     64,931     150,709     122,196  

Temporary equity

    3,601     2,572     2,572             3,601     2,572  

Total stockholders' equity

    10,407     4,951     (494 )   28,550     23,648     11,744     6,409  

*
Not meaningful.

(1)
2010 included $3.7 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense and $0.3 million of expense for our portion of payroll taxes related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. See Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements, Equity Recapitalization. 2012 and 2011 each included $1.0 million of management fee expense and the first quarter of 2013 and 2012 each included $250,000 of management fee expense, in accordance with our management services agreement and through the Class C common stock dividend paid to the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock. The one share of Class C common stock will be redeemed upon the closing of this offering.

(2)
AUVs consist of average annualized sales of all company-owned restaurants over the trailing 12 periods in a typical operating year.

(3)
Comparable restaurant sales represent year-over-year sales for restaurants open for at least 18 full periods.

(4)
Restaurant contribution represents restaurant revenue less restaurant operating costs which are cost of sales, labor, occupancy and other restaurant operating costs.

(5)
EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA are supplemental measures of operating performance that do not represent and should not be considered as alternatives to net income or cash flow from operations, as determined by US GAAP, and our calculation thereof may not be comparable to that reported by other companies. These measures are presented because we believe that investors' understanding of our performance is enhanced by including these non-GAAP financial measures as a reasonable basis for evaluating our ongoing results of operations.

EBITDA is calculated as net income before interest expense, provision (benefit) for income taxes and depreciation and amortization. Adjusted EBITDA further adjusts EBITDA to reflect the additions and eliminations described in the table below.

EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA are presented because: (i) we believe they are useful measures for investors to assess the operating performance of our business without the effect of non-cash charges such as depreciation and amortization expenses and asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments and (ii) we use adjusted EBITDA internally as a benchmark for certain of our cash incentive plans and to evaluate our operating performance or compare our performance to that of our competitors. The use of adjusted EBITDA as a performance measure permits a comparative assessment of our operating performance relative to our performance based on our US GAAP results, while isolating the effects of some items that vary from period to period without any correlation to core operating performance or that vary widely among similar companies. Companies within our industry exhibit significant variations with respect to capital structures and cost of capital (which affect interest expense and income tax rates) and differences in book depreciation of property, plant and equipment (which affect relative depreciation expense), including significant differences in the depreciable lives of similar assets among various companies. Our management believes that adjusted EBITDA facilitates company-to-company comparisons within our industry by eliminating some of these foregoing variations. Adjusted EBITDA as presented may not be comparable to other similarly-titled measures of other companies, and our presentation of adjusted EBITDA should not be construed as an inference that our future results will be unaffected by excluded or unusual items.

Because of these limitations, EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for performance measures calculated in accordance with US GAAP. We compensated for these limitations by relying primarily on our US GAAP results and using EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA only supplementally. Our management recognizes that EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA have limitations as analytical financial measures, including the following:

EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA does not reflect our capital expenditures or future requirements for capital expenditures;

EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA do not reflect interest expense, or the cash requirements necessary to service interest or principal payments, associated with our indebtedness;

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    EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA do not reflect depreciation and amortization, which are non-cash charges, although the assets being depreciated and amortized will likely have to be replaced in the future, and do not reflect cash requirements for such replacements;

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect the cost of stock-based compensation; and

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect changes in, or cash requirements for, our working capital needs.

    A reconciliation of net income to EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA is provided below:

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  December 29,
2009
  December 30,
2008
  April 2,
2013
  April 3,
2012
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Net income

  $ 5,163   $ 3,829   $ 2,378   $ 1,067   $ 143   $ 924   $ 1,291  

Depreciation and amortization

    16,719     14,501     13,932     13,315     11,283     4,801     3,732  

Interest expense

    5,028     6,132     1,819     1,840     1,342     1,053     1,284  

Provision for income taxes

    3,215     1,780     (366 )   1,343     553     595     906  
                               

EBITDA

  $ 30,125   $ 26,242   $ 17,763   $ 17,565   $ 13,321   $ 7,373   $ 7,213  

Debt extinguishment expense

    2,646     275                          

Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairment

    1,278     1,629     2,815     1,070     1,273     201     180  

Management fees(a)

    1,000     1,014                 250     250  

Stock-based compensation expense(b)

    1,234     1,328     5,894     1,740     2,087     363     309  
                               

Adjusted EBITDA

  $ 36,283   $ 30,488   $ 26,472   $ 20,375   $ 16,681   $ 8,187   $ 7,952  
                               

(a)
2012 and 2011 each included $1.0 million of management fee expense and the first quarter of 2013 and 2012 each included $250,000 of management fee expense, in accordance with our management services agreement and through the Class C common stock dividend paid to the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock.

(b)
2010 included $3.7 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense and $0.3 million of expense for our portion of payroll taxes related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. See Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements, Equity Recapitalization.
(6)
As of December 28, 2010 the consolidated balance sheet included $189.4 million in restricted cash and current liabilities that were temporarily held due to timing of the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. See Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements, Equity Recapitalization.

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MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF
FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

        The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with "Selected Consolidated Financial Data" and our consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing elsewhere in this prospectus. In addition to historical information, this discussion and analysis contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors including, but not limited to, those discussed in "Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements," "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in this prospectus.

        We operate on a 52 or 53 week fiscal year ending on the Tuesday closest to December 31. Fiscal years 2012 and 2010, which ended on January 1, 2013 and December 28, 2010, respectively, each contained 52 weeks. Fiscal year 2011, which ended on January 3, 2012, contained 53 weeks. We refer to our fiscal years as 2012, 2011 and 2010. Our fiscal quarters each contained 13 operating weeks, with the exception of the fourth quarter of 2011, which had 14 operating weeks.

NOODLES & COMPANY
A World of Flavors Under One Roof

Highlights and Trends

        Restaurant Development.    New restaurants have contributed substantially to our revenue growth, and in 2012 we opened 39 new company-owned restaurants and six franchise restaurants. We also had one restaurant relocation and one closure, resulting in a net increase of 43 restaurants. Our growth rate of 15.1% in 2012 continued a track record of over 10% annual restaurant growth for each of the past 10 years. In 2013 we anticipate opening between 38 and 42 company-owned restaurants and between six and eight franchise restaurants, including the 13 company-owned restaurants we have opened as of April 30, 2013.

        Comparable Restaurant Sales.    Comparable restaurant sales increased by 5.4% system wide in 2012, which was comprised primarily of traffic growth and a 1.3% menu price increase. The restaurant industry is impacted significantly by trends in consumer spending, and due to the uncertain economic environment, combined with our own difficult year-over-year comparisons, we may not experience such robust comparable restaurant sales growth in 2013.

        Your World Kitchen.    In 2012, we began using "Your World Kitchen" to describe the breadth of our offering and our guests' dining experience. We believe this description captures the breadth of our menu and defines our guests' experience. Restaurants that tested this interior signage saw an increase in AUVs and we recently completed installation in all of our company-owned restaurants.

Key Measures We Use to Evaluate Our Performance

        To evaluate the performance of our business, we utilize a variety of financial and performance measures. These key measures include revenue, AUVs, comparable restaurant sales, restaurant contribution, EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA.

Revenue

        Restaurant revenue represents sales of food and beverages in company-owned restaurants. Several factors affect our restaurant revenue in any period, including the number of restaurants in operation and per restaurant sales.

        Franchise royalties and fees represent royalty income and initial franchise fees. While we expect that the majority of our revenue and net income growth will be driven by company-owned restaurants, our franchise restaurants remain an important part of our financial success.

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Average Unit Volumes

        AUVs consist of the average annualized sales of all company-owned restaurants for the trailing 12 periods over a certain time frame. AUVs are calculated by dividing restaurant revenue by the number of operating days within each time period and multiplying by 361, which is equal to the number of operating days we have in a typical year. This measurement allows management to assess changes in consumer traffic and per person spending patterns at our restaurants.

Comparable Restaurant Sales

        Comparable restaurant sales refer to year-over-year sales comparisons for the comparable restaurant base. We define the comparable restaurant base to include restaurants open for at least 18 full periods. As of 2012, 2011 and 2010, there were 216, 192 and 174 restaurants, respectively, in our comparable restaurant base. This measure highlights performance of existing restaurants, as the impact of new restaurant openings is excluded. Comparable restaurant sales growth is generated by increases in traffic, which we calculate as the number of entrees sold, or changes in per person spend, calculated as sales divided by traffic. Per person spend can be influenced by changes in menu prices and the mix and number of items sold per person.

        While we believe most of our increases in restaurant revenue will come from opening new restaurants, we will continue to focus on ways to increase comparable restaurant sales. For additional information about how we intend to do that, see the discussion at "Business—Improving Our Performance."

        Measuring our comparable restaurant sales allows us to evaluate the performance of our existing restaurant base. Various factors impact comparable restaurant sales, including:

    consumer recognition of our brand and our ability to respond to changing consumer preferences;

    overall economic trends, particularly those related to consumer spending;

    our ability to operate restaurants effectively and efficiently to meet consumer expectations;

    pricing;

    per person spend and average check amount;

    marketing and promotional efforts;

    local competition;

    trade area dynamics;

    introduction of new and seasonal menu items and LTOs; and

    opening of new restaurants in the vicinity of existing locations.

        As a result of the 53-week fiscal year 2011, our fiscal year 2012 began one week later than our fiscal year 2011. Consistent with common industry practice, we present comparable restaurant sales on a calendar-adjusted basis that aligns current year sales weeks with comparable periods in the prior year, regardless of whether they belong to the same fiscal period or not. Since opening new company-owned and franchise restaurants is an important part of our growth strategy, and we anticipate new restaurants will be a significant component of our revenue growth, comparable restaurant sales are only one measure of how we evaluate our performance.

Restaurant Contribution

        Restaurant contribution is defined as restaurant revenue less restaurant operating costs which are cost of sales, labor, occupancy and other restaurant operating costs. We expect restaurant contribution to increase in proportion to the number of new restaurants we open and our comparable restaurant sales

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growth. Fluctuations in restaurant contribution margin can also be attributed to those factors discussed above for the components of restaurant operating costs.

EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA

        We define EBITDA as net income before interest expense, provision (benefit) for income taxes and depreciation and amortization. We define adjusted EBITDA as net income before interest expense, debt extinguishment expense, provision (benefit) for income taxes, asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments, depreciation and amortization, stock-based compensation and management fees.

        EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA provides clear pictures of our operating results by eliminating certain non-cash expenses that are not reflective of the underlying business performance. We use these metrics to facilitate a comparison of our operating performance on a consistent basis from period to period and to analyze the factors and trends affecting our business.

        The following table presents a reconciliation of net income to EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA:

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  December 29,
2009
  December 30,
2008
  April 2, 2013
(unaudited)
  April 3, 2012
(unaudited)
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Net income

  $ 5,163   $ 3,829   $ 2,378   $ 1,067   $ 143   $ 924   $ 1,291  

Depreciation and amortization

    16,719     14,501     13,932     13,315     11,283     4,801     3,732  

Interest expense

    5,028     6,132     1,819     1,840     1,342     1,053     1,284  

Provision (benefit) for income taxes

    3,215     1,780     (366 )   1,343     553     595     906  
                               

EBITDA

  $ 30,125   $ 26,242   $ 17,763   $ 17,565   $ 13,321   $ 7,373   $ 7,213  

Debt extinguishment expense

    2,646     275                      

Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairment

    1,278     1,629     2,815     1,070     1,273     201     180  

Management fees(a)

    1,000     1,014                 250     250  

Stock-based compensation expense

    1,234     1,328     5,894     1,740     2,087     363     309  
                               

Adjusted EBITDA

  $ 36,283   $ 30,488   $ 26,472   $ 20,375   $ 16,681   $ 8,187   $ 7,952  
                               

(a)
2012 and 2011 each included $1.0 million of management fee expense and the first quarter of 2013 and 2012 each included $250,000 of management fee expense in accordance with our management services agreement and through the Class C common stock dividend paid to the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock.

(b)
2010 included $3.7 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense and $0.3 million of expense for our portion of payroll taxes related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. See Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements, Equity Recapitalization.

Key Financial Definitions

Cost of Sales

        Cost of sales includes the direct costs associated with the food, beverage and packaging of our menu items. Cost of sales also includes any costs related to discounted menu items. Cost of sales is a substantial expense and can be expected to grow proportionally as our restaurant revenue grows. Fluctuations in cost of sales are caused primarily by volatility in the cost of commodity food items and related contracts for such items. Other important factors causing fluctuations in cost of sales include seasonality, discounting activity and restaurant level management of food waste.

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Labor Costs

        Labor costs include wages, payroll taxes, workers' compensation expense, benefits and bonuses paid to our management teams. Like other expense items, we expect labor costs to grow proportionally as our restaurant revenue grows. Factors that influence fluctuations in our labor costs include minimum wage and payroll tax legislation, the frequency and severity of workers' compensation claims, health care costs and the performance of our restaurants.

Occupancy Costs

        Occupancy costs include rent, common area maintenance and real estate tax expense related to our restaurants and is expected to grow proportionally as we open new restaurants.

Other Restaurant Operating Costs

        Other restaurant operating costs include the costs of utilities, restaurant-level marketing, credit card processing fees, restaurant supplies, repairs and maintenance and other restaurant operating costs. Like other costs, it is expected to grow proportionally as restaurant revenue grows.

General and Administrative Expense

        General and administrative expense is composed of payroll, other compensation, travel, marketing, accounting fees, legal fees and other expenses related to the infrastructure required to support our restaurants. General and administrative expense also includes the non-cash stock compensation expense related to our employee stock incentive plan. General and administrative expense can be expected to grow as we grow, including incremental legal, accounting, insurance and other expenses incurred as a public company.

Depreciation and Amortization

        Our principal depreciation and amortization charges relate to depreciation of fixed assets, including leasehold improvements and equipment, from restaurant construction and ongoing maintenance.

Pre-Opening Costs

        Pre-opening costs relate to the costs incurred prior to the opening of a restaurant. These include management labor costs, staff labor costs during training, food and supplies utilized during training, marketing costs and other related pre-opening costs. Pre-opening costs also include rent recorded between date of possession and opening date for our restaurants.

Asset Disposals, Closure Costs and Restaurant Impairments

        Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments include the loss on disposal of assets related to retirements and replacement of leasehold improvements or equipment, non-cash restaurant closure and impairment charges.

Debt Extinguishment

        In July 2012, we amended our credit facility to extend the maturity date and to reduce interest rates on borrowings. As a result of this amendment, a portion of the existing and new fees were treated as debt extinguishment. In 2011, we wrote off debt issuance costs related to our credit facility.

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Interest Expense

        Interest expense consists primarily of interest on our outstanding indebtedness. Debt issuance costs are amortized at cost over the life of the related debt.

Provision for Income Taxes

        Provision for income taxes consists of federal, state and local taxes on our income.

Restaurant Openings, Closures and Relocations

        The following table shows restaurants opened, closed or relocated in the years indicated.

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  April 2,
2013
  April 3,
2012
 

Company-Owned Restaurant Activity

                               

Beginning of period

    239     212     186     276     239  

Openings

    39     28     28     9     6  

Closures and relocations(1)

    (2 )   (1 )   (2 )   (1 )    
                       

Restaurants at end of period

    276     239     212     284     245  
                       

Franchise Restaurant Activity

                               

Beginning of period

    45     43     43     51     45  

Openings

    6     2              

Closures and relocations(1)

                     
                       

Restaurants at end of period

    51     45     43     51     45  
                       

Total restaurants

    327     284     255     335     290  
                       

(1)
We account for relocated restaurants under both restaurant openings and closures and relocations. During both 2012 and 2010 we closed one restaurant and relocated another restaurant. In fiscal 2011 and the first quarter of 2013, we closed one restaurant at the end of its lease term.

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Results of Operations

        The following table summarizes key components of our results of operations for the periods indicated as a percentage of our total revenue, except for the components of restaurant operating costs, which are expressed as a percentage of restaurant revenue. Fiscal years 2012 and 2010 contained 52 operating weeks and fiscal year 2011 contained 53 operating weeks. Each fiscal quarter contained 13 weeks.

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  April 2,
2013
  April 3,
2012
 

Revenue:

                               

Restaurant revenue

    99.0 %   99.0 %   99.0 %   99.1 %   99.0 %

Franchising royalties and fees

    1.0     1.0     1.0     0.9     1.0  
                       

Total revenue

    100.0     100.0     100.0     100.0     100.0  

Costs and Expenses:

                               

Restaurant Operating Costs (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below):(1)

                               

Cost of sales

    26.6     26.2     26.0     26.5     26.3  

Labor

    30.1     29.8     29.7     30.8     30.0  

Occupancy

    9.9     9.9     9.9     10.4     10.0  

Other restaurant operating costs

    13.2     13.7     13.6     13.7     13.8  

General and administrative(2)

    8.7     9.3     11.3     8.9     9.2  

Depreciation and amortization

    5.6     5.7     6.3     5.9     5.3  

Pre-opening

    1.0     0.9     0.9     1.1     0.8  

Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments

    0.4     0.6     1.3     0.2     0.3  
                       

Total costs and expenses

    94.7     95.3     98.3     96.8     95.0  
                       

Income from operations

    5.3     4.7     1.7     3.2     5.0  

Debt extinguishment expense

    0.9     0.1              

Interest expense

    1.7     2.4     0.8     1.3     1.8  
                       

Income before income taxes

    2.8     2.2     0.9     1.9     3.1  

Provision (benefit) for income taxes

    1.1     0.7     (0.2 )   0.7     1.3  
                       

Net income

    1.7 %   1.5 %   1.1 %   1.1 %   1.8 %
                       

(1)
As a percentage of restaurant revenue.

(2)
2010 included $3.7 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense and $0.3 million of our portion of payroll taxes related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. See Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements, Equity Recapitalization. 2012 and 2011 each included $1.0 million of management fee expense and the first quarter of 2013 and 2012 included $250,000 of management fee expense, in accordance with our management services agreement and through the Class C common stock dividend paid to the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock.

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Fiscal Quarter Ended April 2, 2013, compared to Fiscal Quarter Ended April 3, 2012

        Our fiscal quarters each contain thirteen weeks with the exception of the fourth quarter of a 53 week fiscal year, which contains fourteen weeks. The table below presents our unaudited operating results for the first quarter of 2013 and 2012, and the related quarter-over-quarter changes:

 
  Fiscal Quarter Ended    
   
 
 
  Increase/ (Decrease)  
 
  April 2, 2013   April 3, 2012  
 
  $   %  
 
  (in thousands, except percentages)
 

Statements of Income Data:

                         

Revenue:

                         

Restaurant revenue

  $ 80,518   $ 69,198   $ 11,320     16.4 %

Franchising royalties and fees

    762     690     72     10.4  
                   

Total revenue

    81,280     69,888     11,392     16.3  

Costs and expenses:

                         

Restaurant operating costs (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below):

                         

Cost of sales

    21,301     18,230     3,071     16.8  

Labor

    24,830     20,753     4,077     19.6  

Occupancy

    8,359     6,936     1,423     20.5  

Other restaurant operating costs

    11,060     9,553     1,507     15.8  

General and administrative

    7,235     6,442     793     12.3  

Depreciation and amortization

    4,801     3,732     1,069     28.6  

Pre-opening

    921     581     340     58.5  

Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments

    201     180     21     11.7  
                   

Total costs and expenses

    78,708     66,407     12,301     18.5  
                   

Income from operations

    2,572     3,481     (909 )   (26.1 )

Interest expense

    1,053     1,284     (231 )   (18.0 )
                   

Income before income taxes

    1,519     2,197     (678 )   (30.9 )

Provision for income taxes

    595     906     (311 )   (34.3 )
                   

Net income

  $ 924   $ 1,291   $ (367 )   (28.4 )%
                   

Revenue

        Restaurant revenue increased by $11.3 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012. Restaurants not in the comparable restaurant base accounted for $9.9 million of this increase, with the balance attributed to growth in comparable restaurant sales. Comparable restaurant sales increased by $1.4 million, or 2.2% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, composed primarily of increases in traffic at our comparable base restaurants.

        Franchise royalties and fees increased by $72,000 due to additional restaurant sales from the six franchise restaurants opened in 2012.

Cost of Sales

        Cost of sales increased by $3.1 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, due primarily to the increase in restaurant revenue in the first quarter of 2013. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, cost of sales increased to 26.5% in the first quarter of 2013 from 26.3% in first quarter of 2012. The increase in cost of sales was the result of food cost inflation, partially offset by a minimal increase in menu pricing.

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Labor Costs

        Labor costs increased by $4.1 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, due primarily to the increase in restaurant revenue in the first quarter of 2013. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, labor costs increased to 30.8% in the first quarter of 2013 from 30.0% in the first quarter of 2012. The increase in labor cost percentage was driven by increased health insurance expense and workers compensation expense, offset partially by increases in AUVs.

Occupancy Costs

        Occupancy costs increased by $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012, due primarily to 39 net restaurants opened since the first quarter of 2012. Occupancy costs as a percentage of restaurant revenue increased to 10.4% in the first quarter of 2013, compared to 10.0% in the first quarter of 2012. The increase was due to new restaurant occupancy costs relative to comparable base restaurants and the loss of sales due to a holiday shift in the first quarter of 2013.

Other Restaurant Operating Costs

        Other restaurant operating costs increased by $1.5 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012, due primarily to increased restaurant revenue in the first quarter of 2013. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, other restaurant operating costs declined to 13.7% in the first quarter of 2013 from 13.8% in the first quarter of 2012. The decline as a percentage of restaurant revenue was the result of leverage on increased AUVs on partially fixed costs.

General and Administrative Expense

        General and administrative expense increased by $0.8 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012, due primarily to costs associated with supporting an increased number of restaurants. As a percentage of revenue, general administrative expense decreased to 8.9% in the first quarter of 2013 from 9.2% in the first quarter of 2012 due to increasing revenue without proportionate increases in general and administrative costs or administrative personnel. General and administrative expense includes $0.4 million and $0.3 million of stock-based compensation expense in the first quarter of 2013 and 2012, respectively and $0.3 million of management fees in the first quarter of both 2013 and 2012.

        In conjunction with the closing of this offering, we will recognize approximately $1.5 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense related to accelerated vesting of the majority of our unvested outstanding stock options.

Depreciation and Amortization

        Depreciation and amortization increased by $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012, due primarily to the increase in the number of restaurants. As a percentage of revenue, depreciation and amortization increased to 5.9% in the first quarter of 2013, compared to 5.3% in the first quarter of 2012 due to depreciation on new restaurants and initiatives, partially offset by leverage on increased AUVs.

Pre-Opening Costs

        Pre-opening costs increased by $0.3 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012, due to an increase in the number of restaurants opened in the quarter as well as increased pre-opening costs for restaurants scheduled to open in the subsequent quarter when compared to 2012. As a percentage of revenue, pre-opening costs increased to 1.1% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to 0.8% in the first quarter of 2012 due to the timing of restaurant openings.

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Asset Disposals, Closure Costs, and Restaurant Impairments

        Asset disposals, closure costs, and restaurant impairments increased by $21,000 in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012 due primarily to disposal of assets related to standard asset replacements and initiatives.

Interest Expense

        Interest expense decreased by $0.2 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012. The decrease was driven by more favorable borrowing rates in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012, offset by higher average borrowings.

Provision for Income Taxes

        Provision for income taxes decreased by $0.3 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012 primarily due to a decrease in pre-tax net income in the first quarter of 2013 from the comparable quarter of 2012.

Fiscal Year Ended January 1, 2013 compared to Fiscal Year Ended January 3, 2012

        Fiscal year 2012 contained 52 operating weeks and fiscal year 2011 contained 53 operating weeks. The table below presents our operating results for 2012 and 2011, and the related year-over-year changes:

 
  Fiscal Year Ended    
   
 
 
  Increase / (Decrease)  
 
  January 1, 2013   January 3, 2012  
 
  $   %  
 
  (in thousands, except percentages)
 

Statements of Income Data:

                         

Revenue:

                         

Restaurant revenue

  $ 297,264   $ 253,467   $ 43,797     17.3 %

Franchising royalties and fees

    3,146     2,599     547     21.0  
                   

Total revenue

    300,410     256,066     44,344     17.3  

Costs and Expenses:

                         

Restaurant Operating Costs (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below):

                         

Cost of sales

    78,997     66,419     12,578     18.9  

Labor

    89,435     75,472     13,963     18.5  

Occupancy

    29,323     25,208     4,115     16.3  

Other restaurant operating costs

    39,241     34,652     4,589     13.2  

General and administrative(1)

    26,220     23,842     2,378     10.0  

Depreciation and amortization

    16,719     14,501     2,218     15.3  

Pre-opening

    3,145     2,327     818     35.2  

Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments

    1,278     1,629     (351 )   (21.5 )
                   

Total costs and expenses

    284,358     244,050     40,308     16.5  
                   

Income from operations

    16,052     12,016     4,036     33.6  

Debt extinguishment expense

    2,646     275     2,371     *  

Interest expense

    5,028     6,132     (1,104 )   (18.0 )
                   

Income before income taxes

    8,378     5,609     2,769     49.4  

Provision for income taxes

    3,215     1,780     1,435     80.6  
                   

Net income

  $ 5,163   $ 3,829   $ 1,334     34.8 %
                   

*
Not meaningful.

(1)
2012 and 2011 each included $1.0 million of management fee expense in accordance with our management services agreement and through the Class C common stock dividend paid to the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock.

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Revenue

        Restaurant revenue increased by $43.8 million in 2012 compared to 2011. Restaurants not in the comparable restaurant base accounted for $30.8 million of this increase, with the balance attributed to growth in comparable restaurant sales. Comparable restaurant sales increased by $13.0 million or 5.2% in 2012, composed primarily of increases in traffic at our comparable base restaurants.

        Franchise royalties and fees increased by $0.5 million due to six new restaurant openings and increased comparable restaurant sales of 6.2% during 2012.

        The impact of 2011 having an additional operating week was approximately $4.8 million in total revenue.

Cost of Sales

        Cost of sales increased by $12.6 million in 2012 compared to 2011, due primarily to the increase in restaurant revenue in 2012. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, cost of sales increased to 26.6% in 2012 from 26.2% in 2011. This increase was primarily the result of food cost inflation, partially offset by a minimal increase in menu pricing.

Labor Costs

        Labor costs increased by $14.0 million in 2012 compared to 2011, due primarily to the increase in restaurant revenue in 2012. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, labor costs increased to 30.1% in 2012 from 29.8% in 2011. The increase in labor cost percentage was driven by increased workers' compensation expense and payroll tax rates, offset partially by increases in AUVs.

Occupancy Costs

        Occupancy costs increased by $4.1 million in 2012 compared to 2011, due primarily to new restaurants opened in each of these years. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, occupancy costs remained constant year-over-year at 9.9%. Increases in common area maintenance, real estate tax and new restaurant occupancy costs relative to comparable base restaurants were offset by leverage from increased AUVs.

Other Restaurant Operating Costs

        Other restaurant operating costs increased by $4.6 million in 2012 compared to 2011, due primarily to the increase in restaurant revenue in 2012. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, other restaurant operating costs declined to 13.2% in 2012 from 13.7% in 2011. The decrease in other restaurant operating cost percentage was the result of leverage of increased AUVs on partially fixed costs, as well as lower than typical utility costs due to a mild winter in early 2012.

General and Administrative Expense

        General and administrative expense increased by $2.4 million in 2012 compared to 2011, due primarily to costs associated with supporting an increased number of restaurants. As a percentage of revenue, general and administrative expense decreased to 8.7% in 2012 from 9.3% in 2011 due to increasing revenue without proportionate increases in general and administrative expense or administrative personnel. General and administrative expense includes $1.2 million and $1.3 million of stock-based compensation expense in 2012 and 2011, respectively, and $1.0 million of management fees in both 2012 and 2011.

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Depreciation and Amortization

        Depreciation and amortization increased by $2.2 million in 2012 compared to 2011, due primarily to an increased number of restaurants. As a percentage of revenue, depreciation and amortization decreased to 5.6% in 2012 from 5.7% in 2011, due to leverage of increased AUVs.

Pre-Opening Costs

        Pre-opening costs increased by $0.8 million in 2012 compared to 2011, due to 39 restaurant openings in 2012, compared to 28 in 2011. As a percentage of revenue, pre-opening costs increased to 1.0% in 2012 compared to 0.9% in 2011 due to the increased rate of restaurant unit growth.

Asset Disposals, Closure Costs and Restaurant Impairments

        Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments decreased by $0.4 million in 2012 compared to 2011 due primarily to the impairment of one restaurant in 2011, resulting in $0.7 million of expense. The decrease was offset by the lease termination and other related closing costs of one restaurant closed in 2012.

Debt Extinguishment

        Debt extinguishment expense was $2.6 million in 2012, as a result of an amendment to our credit facility to extend the maturity date to July 2017 and reduced interest rates on borrowings. A portion of the existing and new fees were treated as debt extinguishment, which resulted in a non-cash write-off of $2.3 million. In 2011, we wrote off $0.3 million of debt issuance costs related to our credit facility.

Interest Expense

        Interest expense decreased by $1.1 million in 2012 compared to 2011. The decrease was primarily due to the favorable borrowing rates resulting from the 2012 amendment to our credit facility, partially offset by increased borrowings to fund our capital expenditures.

Provision for Income Taxes

        Provision for income taxes increased by $1.4 million in 2012 compared to 2011, due to the increase in pre-tax net income in 2012 and an increase to our effective income tax rate.

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Fiscal Year Ended January 3, 2012 compared to Fiscal Year Ended December 28, 2010

        Fiscal year 2011 contained 53 operating weeks and fiscal year 2010 contained 52 operating weeks. The table below presents our operating results for 2011 and 2010, and the related year-over-year changes:

 
  Fiscal Year Ended    
   
 
 
  Increase / (Decrease)  
 
  January 3, 2012   December 28, 2010  
 
  $   %  
 
  (in thousands, except percentages)
 

Statements of Income Data:

                         

Revenue:

                         

Restaurant revenue

  $ 253,467   $ 218,560   $ 34,907     16.0 %

Franchising royalties and fees

    2,599     2,272     327     14.4  
                   

Total revenue

    256,066     220,832     35,234     16.0  

Costs and Expenses:

                         

Restaurant Operating Costs (exclusive of depreciation and amortization shown separately below):

                         

Cost of sales

    66,419     56,869     9,550     16.8  

Labor

    75,472     64,942     10,530     16.2  

Occupancy

    25,208     21,650     3,558     16.4  

Other restaurant operating costs

    34,652     29,784     4,868     16.3  

General and administrative(1)

    23,842     24,921     (1,079 )   (4.3 )

Depreciation and amortization

    14,501     13,932     569     4.1  

Pre-opening

    2,327     2,088     239     11.4  

Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments

    1,629     2,815     (1,186 )   (42.1 )
                   

Total costs and expenses

    244,050     217,001     27,049     12.5 %
                   

Income from operations

    12,016     3,831     8,185     *  

Debt extinguishment expense

    275         275     *  

Interest expense

    6,132     1,819     4,313     *  
                   

Income before income taxes

    5,609     2,012     3,597     *  

Provision (benefit) for income taxes

    1,780     (366 )   2,146     *  
                   

Net income

  $ 3,829   $ 2,378   $ 1,451     61.0 %
                   

*
Not meaningful.

(1)
2010 included $3.7 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense and $0.3 million of expense for our portion of payroll taxes related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. See Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements, Equity Recapitalization. 2012 and 2011 each included $1.0 million of management fee expense in accordance with our management services agreement and through the Class C common stock dividend paid to the holder of the one outstanding share of our Class C common stock.

Revenue

        Restaurant revenue increased by $34.9 million in 2011 compared to 2010. Restaurants not in the comparable restaurant base accounted for $25.8 million of this increase, with the balance attributed to growth in comparable restaurant sales. Comparable restaurant sales increased by $9.1 million, or 4.2% in 2011, composed primarily of increases in traffic at our comparable base restaurants. The impact of fiscal 2011 having an additional operating week was approximately $4.8 million in total revenue.

        Franchise royalties and fees increased by $0.3 million due to two new restaurant openings and a 7.6% increase in comparable restaurant sales.

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Cost of Sales

        Cost of sales increased by $9.6 million in 2011 compared to 2010, due primarily to the increase in restaurant revenue in 2011. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, cost of sales increased to 26.2% in 2011 from 26.0% in 2010. This increase was primarily the result of food cost inflation, partially offset by a minimal increase in menu pricing.

Labor Costs

        Labor costs increased by $10.5 million in 2011 compared to 2010, due primarily to the increase in restaurant revenue in 2011. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, labor costs increased to 29.8% in 2011 from 29.7% in 2010. The increase in labor cost percentage of restaurant revenue was driven by increased workers' compensation expense and payroll tax rates, offset partially by increased AUVs.

Occupancy Costs

        Occupancy costs increased by $3.6 million in 2011 compared to 2010, due primarily to new restaurants opened in each year. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, occupancy costs remained constant year-over-year at 9.9%. Increases from common area maintenance, real estate tax and new restaurant occupancy costs relative to comparable base restaurants were offset by leverage from increased AUVs.

Other Restaurant Operating Costs

        Other restaurant operating costs increased by $4.9 million in 2011 compared to 2010, due primarily to increased restaurant revenue. As a percentage of restaurant revenue, other restaurant operating costs increased to 13.7% in 2011 from 13.6% in 2010, due primarily to increased credit card processing fees partially offset by increased AUVs.

General and Administrative Expense

        General and administrative expense decreased by $1.1 million in 2011 compared to 2010. The decrease is due primarily to $3.7 million in non-cash stock-based compensation charges which occurred in 2010 and did not repeat in 2011, offset by $1.0 million in management fee expense in 2011 which did not exist in 2010. Excluding these items, general and administrative expense increased by $1.6 million in 2011 compared to 2010, due primarily to costs associated with supporting an increased number of restaurants. As a percentage of revenue, general and administrative expense decreased to 9.3% in 2011 from 11.3% in 2010, primarily due to the decrease in stock-based compensation and increasing revenue without proportionate increases in general and administrative expense or administrative personnel.

Depreciation and Amortization

        Depreciation and amortization expense increased by $0.6 million in 2011 compared to 2010, due primarily to the increase in number of restaurants. As a percentage of revenue, depreciation and amortization decreased to 5.7% in 2011 from 6.3% in 2010, primarily due to leverage of increased AUVs and certain assets being fully depreciated.

Pre-Opening Costs

        Pre-opening costs increased by $0.2 million in 2011 compared to 2010. This increase was due to the recording of pre-opening rent in the fourth quarter of 2011 for those restaurants that opened in the first quarter of 2012. As a percentage of revenue, pre-opening costs were constant year-over-year at 0.9%.

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Asset Disposals, Closure Costs and Restaurant Impairments

        Asset disposals, closure costs and restaurant impairments decreased by $1.2 million in 2011 compared to 2010 due primarily to the impairment of three restaurants in 2010, compared to the impairment of one restaurant in 2011.

Debt Extinguishment Expense

        We wrote off $0.3 million of debt extinguishment expense related to our credit facility.

Interest Expense

        Interest expense increased by $4.3 million in 2011 compared to 2010. The increase was due to higher interest rates and higher average debt outstanding in 2011 compared to 2010. In February of 2011, we refinanced our credit facility, resulting in increased borrowing capacity and higher interest rates. We also received bridge financing in the 2010 Equity Recapitalization, resulting in non-cash paid-in-kind interest ("PIK") charges in 2011 of $0.9 million.

Provision for Income Taxes

        Provision for income taxes increased by $2.1 million in 2011 compared to 2010 primarily due to the impact of the 2010 Equity Recapitalization on our income tax provision in 2010.

Quarterly Financial Data

        The following table presents select historical quarterly consolidated statements of operations data and other operations data through April 2, 2013. This quarterly information has been prepared using our unaudited consolidated financial statements and includes all adjustments consisting only of normal recurring adjustments necessary for a fair presentation of the results of the interim periods.

 
  Quarter Ended  
 
  April 2,
2013
  Jan. 1,
2013
  Oct. 2,
2012
  July 3,
2012
  April 3,
2012
  Jan. 3,
2012
  Sept. 27,
2011
  June 28,
2011
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Total revenue

  $ 81,280   $ 77,929   $ 77,099   $ 75,494   $ 69,888   $ 70,491   $ 64,530   $ 62,992  
                                   

Net income

    924     1,559     133     2,180     1,291     (66 )   1,995     1,720  
                                   

Selected Operating Data:

                                                 

Company-owned restaurants at end of period

    284     276     261     253     245     239     219     216  

Franchise-owned restaurants at end of period

    51     51     48     46     45     45     44     43  

Company-owned:

                                                 

Average unit volumes(1)

    1,180     1,178     1,175     1,170     1,161     1,147     1,137     1,130  

Comparable restaurant sales(2)

    2.2 %   4.2 %   3.4 %   6.8 %   6.8 %   5.4 %   5.2 %   2.0 %

Restaurant contribution as a percentage of restaurant revenue(3)

    18.6 %   20.3 %   20.0 %   20.9 %   19.8 %   19.9 %   21.2 %   21.6 %

(1)
AUVs consist of average annualized sales of all company-owned restaurants over the trailing 12 periods in a typical operating year.

(2)
Comparable restaurant sales represent year-over-year sales for restaurants open for at least 18 full periods.

(3)
Restaurant contribution represents restaurant revenue less restaurant operating costs which are cost of sales, labor, occupancy and other restaurant operating costs.

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        Seasonal factors cause our revenue to fluctuate from quarter to quarter. Our revenue per restaurant is typically lower in the first and fourth quarters due to reduced winter and holiday traffic and higher in the second and third quarters. As a result of these factors, our quarterly and annual operating results and comparable restaurant sales may fluctuate significantly.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

Potential Impacts of Market Conditions on Capital Resources

        We have continued to experience positive trends in consumer traffic and increases in comparable restaurant sales, operating cash flows and restaurant contribution margin. However, the restaurant industry continues to be challenged and uncertainty exists as to the sustainability of these favorable trends. We have continued to implement various cost savings initiatives, including savings in our food costs through waste reduction and efficiency initiatives in our supply chain and labor costs. We have developed new menu items to appeal to consumers and used marketing campaigns to promote these items.

        We believe that expected cash flow from operations, proceeds from this offering and planned borrowing capacity are adequate to fund debt service requirements, operating lease obligations, capital expenditures and working capital obligations for the next 12 periods. However, our ability to continue to meet these requirements and obligations will depend on, among other things, our ability to achieve anticipated levels of revenue and cash flow and our ability to manage costs and working capital successfully.

Summary of Cash Flows

        Our primary sources of liquidity and cash flows are operating cash flows and borrowings on our revolving line of credit. We use this cash to fund capital expenditures for new restaurant openings, reinvest in our existing restaurants, invest in infrastructure and information technology and maintain working capital. Our working capital position benefits from the fact that we generally collect cash from sales to guests the same day, or in the case of credit or debit card transactions, within several days of the related sale, and we typically have at least 30 days to pay our vendors.

        Cash flows from operating, investing and financing activities are shown in the following table:

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal Quarter Ended  
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  April 2,
2013
  April 3,
2012
 
 
  (in thousands)
   
   
 

Net cash provided by operating activities

  $ 32,069   $ 27,922   $ 24,605   $ 7,961   $ 6,099  

Net cash used in investing activities

    (47,384 )   (30,047 )   (26,933 )   (13,342 )   (8,742 )

Net cash provided by (used in) financing activities

    15,373     (10,654 )   15,215     5,778     2,582  
                       

Cash and cash equivalents at the end of period(1)

  $ 581   $ 523   $ 13,302   $ 978   $ 462  
                       

(1)
Cash and cash equivalents for the year ended December 28, 2010 reflected cash received and unpaid related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization.

Operating Activities

        In the first quarter of 2013, net cash provided by operating activities increased by $1.9 million from the first quarter of 2012. Cash generated by increased restaurant revenue accounted for the majority of this change.

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        Net cash provided by operating activities increased in 2012 from 2011 primarily due to an increase in cash generated from restaurant operations as a result of comparable restaurant sales increases, a decrease in cash paid for interest, which was $4.4 million in 2012 compared to $5.2 million in 2011 and also higher non-cash costs, such as depreciation and amortization, provision for income taxes and write-off of debt issuance costs.

        In 2011, net cash provided by operating activities also increased from 2010, primarily due to an increase in cash generated from restaurant operations as a result of comparable restaurant sales increases and normal increases in operating assets and liabilities, offset by an increase in cash paid for interest, which was $5.2 million in 2011 and $1.6 million in 2010.

Investing Activities

        Cash used to fund new restaurant capital expenditures for nine new restaurant openings and the roll out of "Your World Kitchen" merchandising drove the increase in net cash used in investing activities in the first quarter of 2013.

        Net cash used in investing activities was related almost entirely to new restaurant capital expenditures in 2012, 2011 and 2010, for the opening of 39, 28 and 28 restaurants, respectively. In addition to our standard refresh and remodel investments in 2012, we also invested additional funds in our existing restaurant base as we rolled out our "Your World Kitchen" merchandising.

        We estimate that our capital expenditures for 2013 will total between approximately $42 million and $47 million primarily related to the planned opening of between 38 and 42 company-owned restaurants.

Financing Activities

        In the first quarter of 2013, net cash provided by financing activities was $5.8 million due to increased borrowings on our credit facility to fund capital expenditures.

        Net cash provided by financing activities was $15.4 million in 2012, driven by increased borrowings on our credit facility to fund capital expenditures. In February 2011, we refinanced our credit facility to increase our borrowing capacity to $120.0 million, and in August 2012, we amended the credit facility to provide more favorable borrowing rates and extend borrowing capacity through July 2017.

        During 2011, net cash used in financing activities was $10.7 million due to cash payments made related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization. In connection with our February 2011 refinancing, we repaid $46.0 million of bridge financing and PIK interest on borrowings from new investors in the 2010 transaction, as well as $4.2 million in refinancing fees. Additionally, $6.6 million of employee and employer payroll taxes related to the 2010 Equity Recapitalization were remitted in the first quarter of 2011.

        During 2010, net cash provided by financing activities was $15.2 million due primarily to the timing of our equity recapitalization. We received a bridge loan of $45.0 million, offset by a net payment of transaction proceeds and expenses of approximately $28.1 million.

Credit Facility

        In February 2011, we refinanced our credit facility to increase its borrowing capacity to $120.0 million, consisting of a $75.0 million senior term loan and a $45.0 million revolving line of credit. The revolving line of credit includes a swing line loan of $5.0 million used to fund everyday working capital requirements. In August 2012, we amended the credit facility to provide more favorable borrowing rates and extend borrowing capacity through July 2017. We had $94.5 million outstanding and $23.1 million available for borrowing under the credit facility as of January 1, 2013.

        Borrowings under the credit facility bear interest, at our option, at either (i) LIBOR plus 2.00 to 4.25%, based on the lease-adjusted leverage ratio or (ii) the highest of the following rates plus 1.00 to

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3.25%: (a) the federal funds rate plus 0.50%; (b) the Bank of America prime rate or (c) the one month LIBOR plus 1.00%. Prior to the August 2012 amendment, borrowings under the credit facility bore interest, at our option, at either (i) LIBOR plus 4.00 to 5.00%, based on the lease-adjusted leverage ratio or (ii) at the highest of the following rates plus 3.00 to 4.00%: (a) the federal funds rate plus 0.50%; (b) the Bank of America prime rate or (c) the one month LIBOR plus 1.00%. The August 2012 amendment eliminated a 1.25% LIBOR floor on all borrowings. The facility includes a commitment fee of 0.50% per year on any unused portion of the facility. The term loan commitment requires quarterly principal payments of $187,500 through December 2015. We also maintain outstanding letters of credit to secure obligations under our workers' compensation program and certain lease obligations. The letters of credit and quarterly principal payments reduce the amount of future borrowings available under the agreement and aggregated $1.7 million and $750,000, respectively, as of January 1, 2013.

        Availability of borrowings under the revolving line of credit is conditioned on our compliance with specified covenants, including a maximum lease-adjusted leverage ratio, a maximum leverage ratio and a minimum consolidated fixed charge coverage ratio. We are subject to a number of other customary covenants, including limitations on additional borrowings, acquisitions, dividend payments and lease commitments. As of April 2, 2013, we were in compliance with all of our debt covenants.

        Our credit facility is secured by a pledge of stock of substantially all of our subsidiaries and a lien on substantially all of the personal property assets of us and our subsidiaries.

        We intend to use approximately $       million of the net proceeds from this offering to repay borrowings under our credit facility. See "Use of Proceeds."

        As required by our credit facility, we entered into two variable-to-fixed interest rate swap agreements covering a portion of its borrowings under the senior term loan in February 2011, see Note 5 of our consolidated financial statements, Derivative Instruments.

Bridge Financing

        In conjunction with the February 2011 debt refinancing, we repaid $45.0 million of bridge financing, as well as $977,000 of 12% PIK interest. Noncash PIK interest of $947,000 and $30,000 was accrued and reported as other noncash in the consolidated statements of cash flows in 2011 and 2010, respectively.

Contractual Obligations

        Our contractual obligations at April 2, 2013 were as follows:

 
   
  Payments Due by Period  
 
  Total   1 Year   2 - 3
Years
  4 - 5
Years
  After 5
Years
 
 
  (in thousands)
 

Lease obligations(1)

    219,851     30,827     59,912     51,670     77,442  

Purchase commitments(2)

    6,899     4,121     2,779          

Credit Facility(3)

    2,063     750     1,313          

Long-term debt(3)

    97,446             97,446      
                       

    326,259     35,698     64,004     149,116     77,442  
                       

(1)
We are obligated under non-cancelable leases for our restaurants, administrative offices and equipment. Some restaurant leases provide for contingent rental payments based on sales thresholds, which are excluded from this table.

(2)
We enter into various purchase obligations in the ordinary course of business. Those that are binding primarily relate to volume commitments for beverage products.

(3)
We are required to make quarterly principal payments on our credit facility of $187,500 through December 2015. We have reflected full payment of long-term debt at maturity of our credit facility in 2017. We intend to use a portion of the net proceeds we receive from this offering to repay borrowings under our credit facility. See "Use of Proceeds."

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Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

        We had no off-balance sheet arrangements or obligations.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure about Market Risk

Interest Rate Risk

        We are exposed to market risk from changes in interest rates on debt and changes in commodity prices. Our exposure to interest rate fluctuations is limited to our outstanding bank debt, which bears interest at variable rates. As of January 1, 2013, there was $94.5 million in outstanding borrowings under our credit facility. A plus or minus 1.0% in the effective interest rate applied on these loans would have resulted in a pre-tax interest expense fluctuation of $0.9 million on an annualized basis.

        We manage our interest rate risk through normal operating and financing activities and, when deemed appropriate, through the use of derivative financial instruments.

        As required by our credit facility and to mitigate exposure to fluctuations in interest rates we entered into two variable-to-fixed interest rate swap agreements covering a portion of the borrowings under our credit facility. The new interest rate swaps were effective April 4, 2011 and mature on April 4, 2013. The swaps were designated as cash flow hedges at inception and were expected to be highly effective in achieving offsetting cash flows attributable to the hedged risk during their respective term. In conjunction with the August 2012 amendment to our credit facility, we ceased the application of hedge accounting on both interest swaps. Fluctuations in market value now flow through interest expense rather than the balance sheet. We are required to make payments based on a fixed rate of 1.59% calculated on a notional amount of $20.0 million and 3.06% calculated on a notional amount of $17.5 million. The fair value of the $20.0 million swap was zero at designation, while the fair value of the $17.5 million swap was a liability of $466,000 at designation, which is reflective of the fair value of the previously terminated swap. In exchange, we receive interest on $20.0 million of notional at a variable rate based on the greater of 1.25% or one-month LIBOR and will receive interest on a notional amount of $17.5 million a variable rate based on the greater of 1.25% or one-month LIBOR. See Note 5 of our consolidated financial statements, Derivative Instruments.

        In 2008, we entered into two variable-to-fixed interest rate swap agreements which were subsequently terminated in 2011. A swap with a notional amount of $15.0 million matured at the end of the swap agreement in February 2011. A second interest rate swap on a notional amount of $14.0 million was terminated by us in March 2011. The fair value of the interest rate swap on the date of termination was $466,000 and is being settled through payments on a new interest rate swap with an effective date of April 4, 2011 and a notional amount of $17.5 million. The deferred loss accumulated in other comprehensive income as of the date of termination was amortized over the life of the terminated swap through November 2012, the original term of the terminated swap.

Commodity Price Risk

        We purchase certain products that are affected by commodity prices and are, therefore, subject to price volatility caused by weather, market conditions and other factors which are not considered predictable or within our control. Although these products are subject to changes in commodity prices, certain purchasing contracts or pricing arrangements contain risk management techniques designed to minimize price volatility. The purchasing contracts and pricing arrangements we use may result in unconditional purchase obligations, which are not reflected in our consolidated balance sheets. Typically, we use these types of purchasing techniques to control costs as an alternative to directly managing financial instruments to hedge commodity prices. In many cases, we believe we will be able to address material commodity cost increases by adjusting our menu pricing or changing our product delivery strategy.

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However, increases in commodity prices, without adjustments to our menu prices, could increase restaurant operating costs as a percentage of company-owned restaurant revenue.

Inflation

        The primary inflationary factors affecting our operations are food, labor costs, energy costs and materials used in the construction of new restaurants. Increases in the minimum wage directly affect our labor costs. Many of our leases require us to pay taxes, maintenance, repairs, insurance and utilities, all of which are generally subject to inflationary increases. Finally, the cost of constructing our restaurants is subject to inflationary increases in the costs of labor and material. Over the past five years, inflation has not significantly affected our operating results.

Controls and Procedures

        Our management, with the participation of our chief executive officer and chief financial officer, evaluated the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures pursuant to Rule 13a-15 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"), as of January 1, 2013. In designing and evaluating the disclosure controls and procedures, management recognized that any controls and procedures, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable assurance of achieving the desired control objectives. In addition, the design of disclosure controls and procedures must reflect the fact that there are resource constraints and that management is required to apply its judgment in evaluating the benefits of possible controls and procedures relative to their costs.

        Based on that evaluation, our chief executive officer and chief financial officer concluded that our disclosure controls and procedures are effective to provide reasonable assurance that information we are required to disclose in reports that we file or submit under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in SEC rules and forms, and that such information is accumulated and communicated to our management, including our chief executive officer and chief financial officer, as appropriate, to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.

        We have not engaged an independent registered accounting firm to perform an audit of our internal control over financial reporting as of any balance sheet date or for any period reported in our financial statements. Presently, we are not an accelerated filer, as such term is defined by Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act and therefore, our management is not presently required to perform an annual assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. This requirement will first apply to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ending December 30, 2014. Our independent public registered accounting firm will first be required to attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting for our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the first year we are no longer an "emerging growth company."

Stock-Based Compensation Expense

        We account for stock-based compensation arrangements with our employees and non-employee directors using fair value measurement guidance for all share-based payments, including stock options and awards. All of our option awards are exercisable for common stock. For option awards, expense is recognized over the requisite service period in an amount equal to the fair value of the stock-based awards on the date of grant, determined using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model. Warrants are valued with reference to the fair value of the common stock as of the measurement date. The fair value is then recognized as stock-based compensation expense on a straight-line basis over the requisite service period.

        We estimate the fair market value of each option granted using the Black-Scholes option-pricing method, in addition to the estimated value of our equity interests at each reporting date. The Black-Scholes model requires various judgmental assumptions including fair value of the underlying stock, anticipated volatility and expected option life. We calculate expected volatility based on our historical

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volatility and future plans, as well as reported data for selected reasonably similar publicly traded companies within the restaurant industry for which the historical information is available. When selecting the public companies within the restaurant industry, we select companies with comparable characteristics to us, including enterprise value, financial leverage, business model, stage of growth and financial risk. The expected life of options granted is management's best estimate using recent and expected transactions.

        The assumed dividend yield is based on our expectation that we will not pay dividends in the foreseeable future, which is consistent with our history of not paying dividends. The risk-free interest rate for periods within the expected life of the option is based on the U.S. Treasury yield curve in effect at the time of the grant. In addition, we are required to estimate the expected forfeiture rate and only recognize expense for those options that we expect to vest. We estimate the forfeiture rate based on our historical experience. To the extent our actual forfeiture rate is different from our estimated rate, our stock-based compensation expense is accordingly adjusted using the following weighted-average assumptions, in addition to the estimated value of our common stock for the periods presented in the table below.

 
  Fiscal Year  
 
  2012   2011   2010  

Risk-free interest

    0.4 %   1.1 %   1.9 %

Expected life (years)

    3.4     3.7     4.5  

Expected dividend yield

             

Volatility

    32.7 %   26.2 %   29.5 %

Weighted-average Black-Scholes fair value per share at date of grant

  $ 1.64   $ 1.09   $ 0.99  

        In 2012, 2011 and 2010, non-cash stock-based compensation expense of $1.2 million, $1.3 million and $5.6 million, respectively, is included in general and administrative expense. Stock-based compensation of $81,000, $75,000 and $83,000 is included in capitalized internal costs in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively. We recognized $3.7 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense in 2010 related to the acceleration of unvested options in accordance with the terms of a merger with a newly organized Delaware subsidiary owned by affiliates of Catterton and PSPIB. In the merger, options covering a total of 8,560,466 shares of Class A common stock were settled for the right to receive cash consideration of $5.00 per share, net of exercise price and income taxes withheld, or equity interests in the surviving entity of equivalent value. The merger provided for acceleration of unvested options immediately prior to the transaction. Accordingly, options to purchase 4,148,571 shares were accelerated.

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Determination of the Fair Value of Common Stock

        The following table sets forth all stock option grants since December 30, 2009 through the date of this prospectus:

Grant Date
  Number of
Options
Granted(1)
  Exercise Price(1)   Common Stock
Fair Value Per Share
at Grant Date(1)
 

February 23, 2010

    26,547   $ 3.35   $ 3.35  

March 22, 2010

    1,206,296     3.35     3.35  

May 11, 2010

    24,208     3.68     3.68  

August 10, 2010

    19,785     4.50     4.50  

December 27, 2010

    4,195,600     5.00     5.00  

January 21, 2011

    300,000     5.00     5.00  

June 21, 2011

    45,000     5.00     5.00  

September 7, 2011

    146,000     5.00     5.00  

April 10, 2012

    27,500     5.50     5.50  

May 14, 2012

    264,000     5.50     5.50  

September 20, 2012

    15,000     6.00     6.00  

December 6, 2012

    588,600     7.00     7.00  

(1)
Exercise price and common stock fair value per share at grant date data prior to December 27, 2010 are reflected as converted.

        These estimates of the fair value of our common stock were made based on information from the following valuation dates:

Valuation Date(1)
  Fair Value
per Share(2)
 

February 23, 2010

  $ 3.35  

May 11, 2010

    3.68  

August 10, 2010

    4.50  

December 27, 2010

    5.00  

March 6, 2012

    5.50  

July 11, 2012

    6.00  

September 20, 2012

    6.00  

December 6, 2012

    7.00  

April 10, 2013

    7.20  

(1)
Each valuation date shown, other than December 27, 2010, was the date of action by our Board of Directors reflecting its valuation of our common stock as of such date.

(2)
Fair value of our common stock grants prior to December 27, 2010 are reflected as converted.

        Since our common stock is not publicly traded, we considered numerous objective and subjective factors in valuing our common stock at each valuation date in accordance with the guidance in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Practice Aid Valuation of Privately-Held-Company Equity Securities Issued as Compensation ("Practice Aid"). These objective and subjective factors included, but were not limited to:

    recent arm's-length sales of our common stock in privately negotiated transactions;

    our financial performance and financial position;

    our future financial projections;

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    valuations of comparable public companies; and

    the likelihood of achieving a liquidity event for shares of our common stock at a specific time, such as an initial public offering of our common stock or sale of our company, given prevailing market conditions.

        Our management estimated our enterprise value as of the various valuation dates using the market approach, which is an acceptable valuation method in accordance with the Practice Aid. The market approach uses the comparable company methodology based on comparable public companies' equity pricing. Each valuation also reflects a marketability discount, resulting from the illiquidity of our common stock at the time the options were granted. The marketability discount applied in these valuations ranged from a low of 8% to a high of 25%, and the discount applied at each point in time was reflective of the Company's assessment of an appropriate discount to be applied, given the anticipated likelihood of a liquidity event. The discount rate applied was generally reduced as the Company began considering a potential initial public offering of its common stock.

        We determined the fair value of our common stock as of February 23, 2010 to be $3.35 per share and as of May 11, 2010 to be $3.68 per share. We considered objective and subjective factors including a valuation performed by our audit committee in which the fair value of our common stock was determined using a market approach. The market approach considered multiples of financial metrics, consisting of revenue and EBITDA, based on trading prices of a peer group of companies that are publicly traded. These multiples were then applied to our financial metrics to derive an indication of value. The resulting fair value obtained by applying the market approach was then discounted for the lack of marketability of the common stock because we are a private company.

        On August 10, 2010, we determined the fair value of our common stock to be $4.50 per share. We considered objective and subjective factors including a valuation performed by our audit committee in which the fair value of our common stock was determined using a market approach, as used in the February 23, 2010 and May 11, 2010 valuations. The audit committee also took into account an expression of interest we had received from Catterton to acquire a controlling interest in us. The Practice Aid indicates that a third-party transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller is the best indication of fair value of an enterprise.

        On December 27, 2010, we completed the 2010 Equity Recapitalization through a merger, in which shares of our common stock were converted into the right to receive cash consideration of $5.00 or equity of equivalent value in the surviving entity. On the grant date that was contemporaneous with the completion of the 2010 Equity Recapitalization, options were granted at the per share purchase price of $5.00. At each grant date thereafter until the valuation we performed on March 6, 2012, we considered objective and subjective factors and determined that the $5.00 value remained a reasonable approximation of fair value. Among the objective and subjective factors considered were our historic financial performance, our projected financial performance, trading prices of comparable publicly traded firms and macro-economic conditions.

        For the grants made between April 10, 2012 and the date of this prospectus, we considered objective and subjective factors, including valuations by our audit committee in which the fair market value of our stock was determined using a market approach. The market approach considered multiples of financial metrics, consisting of revenue and EBITDA, based on trading prices of a peer group of companies that are publicly traded. These multiples were then applied to our financial metrics to derive an indication of value. The resulting fair value obtained by applying the market approach was then discounted for the lack of marketability of the common stock because we were a private company.

        Based on the initial public offering price of $            , the midpoint of the range on the cover of this prospectus, the intrinsic value of the options outstanding at                         , 2013, was approximately

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$             million, of which approximately $             million related to the options that were vested and approximately $             million related to the options that were not vested.

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

        Our consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes are prepared in accordance with US GAAP. Preparing consolidated financial statements requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenue and expenses. These estimates and assumptions are affected by the application of our accounting policies. Our significant accounting policies are described in Note 1 to our consolidated financial statements. Critical accounting estimates are those that require application of management's most difficult, subjective or complex judgments, often as a result of matters that are inherently uncertain and may change in subsequent periods. While we apply our judgment based on assumptions believed to be reasonable under the circumstances, actual results could vary from these assumptions. It is possible that materially different amounts would be reported using different assumptions. We believe the following critical accounting policies affect our more significant judgments and estimates used in the preparation of our financial statements:

Revenue Recognition

        We record revenue from the operation of company-owned restaurants when sales occur. In the case of gift card sales, we record revenue when: (i) the gift card is redeemed by the guest and (ii) we determine the likelihood of the gift card being redeemed by the guest is remote (gift card breakage). We record royalties from franchise restaurant sales based on a percentage of restaurant revenues in the period the related franchised restaurants' revenues are earned. Area development fees and franchise fees are recognized as income when all material services or conditions relating to the sale of the franchise have been substantially performed or satisfied by us. Both franchise fees and area development fees are generally recognized as income upon the opening of a franchise restaurant or upon termination of the agreement(s).

Property and Equipment

        We state the value of our property and equipment, including primarily leasehold improvements and restaurant equipment, furniture and fixtures at cost, minus accumulated depreciation and amortization. We calculate depreciation using the straight-line method of accounting over the estimated useful lives of the related assets. We amortize our leasehold improvements using the straight-line method of accounting over the shorter of the lease term (including reasonably assured renewal periods) or the estimated useful lives of the related assets. We expense repairs and maintenance as incurred, but capitalize major improvements and betterments. We make judgments and estimates related to the expected useful lives of these assets that are affected by factors such as changes in economic conditions and changes in operating performance. If we change those assumptions in the future, we may be required to record impairment charges for these assets.

Rent

        We record rent expense for our leases, which generally have escalating rentals over the term of the lease, on a straight-line basis over the lease term. The lease term includes renewal options that are reasonably assured. Rent expense begins when we have the right to control the use of the property, which is typically before rent payments are due under the lease. We record the difference between the rent expense and rent paid as deferred rent in the consolidated balance sheet. Rent expense for the period prior to the restaurant opening is reported as pre-opening rent expense in the consolidated statements of income. Tenant incentives used to fund leasehold improvements are recorded in deferred rent and amortized as reductions of rent expense over the term of the lease.

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        Certain of our operating leases contain clauses that provide additional contingent rent based on a percentage of sales greater than certain specified target amounts. We recognize contingent rent expense when the achievement of specified targets is considered probable.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

JOBS Act

        We qualify as an "emerging growth company" pursuant to the provisions of the JOBS Act. For as long as we are an "emerging growth company," we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not "emerging growth companies," including, but not limited to, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements, exemptions from the requirements of holding advisory "say-on-pay" votes on executive compensation, shareholder advisory votes on golden parachute compensation and the extended transition period for complying with the new or revised accounting standards.

        In addition, Section 107 of the JOBS Act also provides that an "emerging growth company" can take advantage of the extended transition period provided in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. An "emerging growth company" can therefore delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. However, we are choosing to "opt out" of such extended transition period and, as a result, we will comply with new or revised accounting standards on the relevant dates on which adoption of such standards is required for non-emerging growth companies. Section 107 of the JOBS Act provides that our decision to opt out of the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards is irrevocable.

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BUSINESS

NOODLES & COMPANY
A World of Flavors Under One Roof

        Noodles & Company is a high growth, fast casual restaurant concept offering lunch and dinner within a fast growing segment of the restaurant industry. Our Company was founded by Aaron Kennedy when we opened our first location in Denver, Colorado in 1995, offering noodle and pasta dishes, staples of many cuisines, with the goal of delivering fresh ingredients and flavors from around the world under one roof—from Pad Thai to Mac & Cheese. Today, our globally inspired menu includes a wide variety of high quality, cooked-to-order dishes, including noodles and pasta, soups, salads and sandwiches, which are served on china by our friendly team members. We believe we offer our guests a compelling value proposition with per person spend of approximately $8.00 for the twelve months ended April 2, 2013. We have 339 restaurants, comprised of 288 company-owned and 51 franchised locations, across 25 states and the District of Columbia, as of April 30, 2013. Our revenue and income from operations have grown from $170 million and $2 million in 2008 to $300 million and $16 million in 2012, representing CAGRs of 15.2% and 67.5%.


YOUR WORLD KITCHEN
Our Differentiated Offering

        Your World Kitchen captures the breadth of our differentiated offering and defines our guests' experience. Our company was founded on the core principle that food can be served quickly and conveniently in an inviting environment without sacrificing quality, freshness or flavor.

        "Your" . . . On trend with our world today, where customization is commonplace, we put control into our guests' hands. Each dish is cooked-to-order and can be customized to each guest's personal tastes. Guests can add a protein, such as grilled chicken or organic tofu, or swap out a vegetable in their entrées. "Your" also represents the control our guests have over their dining experience, whether they want a meal to go, a quick sit-down lunch or a leisurely dinner with friends or family.

        "World" . . . We offer globally inspired flavors with more than 25 Asian, Mediterranean and American dishes together in a single menu. We believe we will continue to benefit from trends in consumer preferences, wider availability of international cuisines and increasingly adventurous consumer tastes. At many restaurants, people are limited to a particular ethnic cuisine or type of dish, such as a sandwich, burrito or burger. At Noodles & Company, we aim to eliminate the "veto vote" by satisfying the preferences of a wide range of guests, whether a mother with kids, a group of coworkers, an individual or a large party.

        "Kitchen" . . . Open kitchens are the focal point of our restaurants. Our guests can see the freshness of our ingredients and watch their food being cooked. "Kitchen" says "cooking" and emphasizes that we cook each dish to order.

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LEADING RESTAURANT GROWTH AND PERFORMANCE

        From 2004 to 2012, we increased the number of our total restaurants from 100 to 327, representing a CAGR of 16.0%. If we continue to grow at our current rate, we believe we can grow to 2,500 restaurants across the United States over the next 15-20 years.


Total Restaurants at End of Fiscal Year

GRAPHIC

        We have experienced steady growth in comparable restaurant sales (at restaurants open for at least 18 full periods) in 28 of the last 29 quarters, due primarily to an increase in guest traffic. System-wide comparable restaurant sales growth for 2010, 2011 and 2012 was 3.7%, 4.8% and 5.4%, respectively. Our company-owned restaurant AUVs grew from $1,098,000 at the beginning of 2010 to $1,178,000 at the end of 2012. In 2012, our company-owned restaurant contribution margin was 20.3% for all restaurants and 22.3% for restaurants in the comparable base, placing us in the top-tier of the restaurant industry, according to Technomic.

        Our new restaurant investment model calls for a total cash investment of approximately $725,000, net of tenant allowances. Our current target cash-on-cash return on investment for a new company-owned restaurant is 30% in its third full-year of operations. Company-owned restaurants that were open a full three years by January 1, 2013, achieved an average cash-on-cash return on investment of 34.8% in their third full year of operations.


OUR INDUSTRY
We Think of Ourselves as a "Category of One"

        We operate in the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry. According to Technomic, in 2011 the 150 largest fast casual concepts grew sales by 8.4% to $21.5 billion, compared with 3.5% for the 500 overall largest restaurant chains in the United States.

        We believe we are the only national fast casual restaurant concept offering a menu with a wide variety of noodle and pasta dishes, soups, salads and sandwiches inspired by global flavors. We believe our combination of attributes—global flavors and variety and fast service—allows us to compete against multiple segments throughout the restaurant industry. Accordingly, we have a larger addressable market for lunch and dinner. We believe we provide a better overall experience than our casual dining competitors by quickly delivering fresh food with friendly service at a price point we believe is attractive to our guests. You do not have to jostle your gear or carry trays of food to or from your table. Grab a drink, have a seat and we will deliver your food to your table—all without the need to tip.

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Our Strengths

        We believe the following strengths set us apart from our competitors:

Variety Makes Togetherness Possible

        We have purposefully chosen a range of healthy to indulgent dishes to satisfy carnivores and vegetarians. Our menu encourages guests to customize their meals to meet their tastes and nutritional preferences with our selection of 14 fresh vegetables and six proteins—beef, pork, chicken, meatballs, shrimp and organic tofu. We believe our variety ensures that even the pickiest of eaters can find something to crave, which eliminates the "veto vote" and encourages people with different tastes to enjoy a meal together.

        All of our dishes are cooked-to-order with fresh, high quality ingredients sourced from carefully selected suppliers. Our commitment to the freshness of our ingredients is further demonstrated by our use of seasonal ingredients and healthy add-in options, such as organic tofu, and by the daily check we require our employees to perform with respect to freshness of the ingredients. Our culinary team strives to develop new dishes and LTOs that incorporate seasonal ingredients to bring flavorful and nutritious dishes to our guests. For example, our Spinach & Fresh Fruit Salad rotates between fresh strawberries in the summer and Fuji apples in the winter. We recently introduced our award-winning slow-braised, naturally raised pork, serving it on our BBQ Mac & Cheese, our BBQ Pork Sandwich or as an add-on to any of our other dishes. This focus on freshness, combined with our commitment to classic cooking methods, results in the high quality of the food we serve.

Value That Is Greater Than Our Competitive Price Point

        Our value proposition, the quality of our food and the warmth of our restaurants create an overall guest experience that we believe is second-to-none. Our 2012 per person spend of $7.80 is competitive not only within the fast casual segment, but also within the quick-service segment. We believe the speed of our service and the quality of our food contribute to a value proposition that enables us to take market share from casual dining restaurants. We deliver value by combining a family-friendly dining environment with the opportunity to enjoy many dishes containing gourmet ingredients like truffle oil and baby portobella mushrooms in our Truffle Mac & Cheese, at a price point of less than $8.00.

Everything Is a Little Nicer Here

        We design each location individually, which we believe creates an inviting restaurant environment. The ambience is warm and welcoming, with muted lighting and colors, comfortable seating and our own custom music mix, which is intended to make our guests feel relaxed and at home. We also enhance the experience by featuring new Coca-Cola Freestyle machines in all our restaurants, offering our guests over 100 drink choices to complement their meal—again putting control in the guests' hands, so that they can match their drink to their meal.

        We believe we deliver an exceptional overall dining experience. We think that our guests should expect not only great food from our restaurants, but also warm hospitality and attentive service. Whether you are a mother with kids or a businessperson with a BlackBerry, you simply order your food, grab a drink and take a seat. We cook each dish to order in approximately five minutes and bring the food right to your table. Our guests may enjoy a relaxed meal or just eat and run.

        Consistent with our culture of enhanced guest service, we seek to hire individuals who will deliver prompt, attentive service by engaging guests the moment they enter our restaurants. Our training philosophy empowers both our restaurant managers and team members to add a personal touch when serving our guests, such as coming out from behind the counter to explain our menu and guide guests to the right dish. Our restaurant managers are critical to our success, as we believe that their entrepreneurial

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spirit and outreach efforts generate the warmth of our environment and build our brand in our communities. We call our cashiers "Noodle Ambassadors" to highlight their role in helping our guests explore our global menu.

        After our guests order at the counter, their food is served on china by our friendly team members. To further enhance our guests' dining experience, we check on them throughout their meal. We offer them drink refills, a glass of wine or dessert, so they do not have to leave their seats. No trash cans are visible to our guests in our restaurants: following the meal, our team quickly clears the table.

Desirable and Loyal Consumer Base

        Based on customer data and surveys, we estimate that approximately 40% of our guests visit our restaurants at least once each month. Our guests skew slightly younger and more affluent than the general population, and according to a recent Gallup survey, this demographic spends more on dining than others. We believe the variety of our food and our ability to accomodate a guest's desire to eat quickly or to enjoy a longer meal enable us to draw sales almost equally between lunch and dinner. Our broad appeal and guest loyalty have led to industry and media recognition:

    Nation's Restaurant News, MenuMasters Award, 2013, Golden Chain Winner, 2010, awarded on the basis of the impact of menu items on the restaurant industry.

    The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association, COEX Innovator Award, 2013, awarded annually to a national chain shaping the restaurant industry through innovation.

    DigitalCoco, Top 10 "Most Loved" food and beverage brands in social media, 2012, awarded on the basis of positive comments made by guests on social media.

    Restaurant Social Media Index, Top Social Media Brands and Top Social Consumer Sentiment, 2012, awarded on the basis of comments made by guests on social media.

    Parents Magazine, Parents Top 10 Family-Friendly Restaurant Chains, 2011 and 2009, awarded on the basis of the healthfulness and quality of ingredients of menu items.

    Health Magazine, America's Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants, 2009, America's Healthiest Restaurants, 2008, awarded on the basis of healthfulness of dishes and use of organic produce, among other factors.

Consistent Restaurant Economics and a Flexible Footprint

        Our restaurant model generates strong cash flow, consistent restaurant-level financial results and a high return on investment. Our restaurants have been successful in diverse geographic regions, with a broad range of population densities and real estate settings. We believe we are an attractive tenant to the owners and developers of a wide variety of real estate development types, which allows us to be highly selective in our evaluation of potential new sites. Our disciplined approach to site selection is grounded in an analytical data-driven model with strict criteria including population density, demographics and traffic generators. We take pride in selecting sites where we can design and construct a comfortable, warm environment for our guests.

Experienced Leadership

        Our strategic vision and culture have been developed and nurtured by our senior management team under the stewardship of our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Reddy, and our President and Chief Operating Officer, Keith Kinsey. Kevin and Keith joined Noodles in 2005 after working at McDonald's and, more recently, Chipotle. At Chipotle, they were instrumental in growing the concept from a small number of restaurants to more than 400 across the country between 2000 and 2005 with the financial backing of McDonald's. They delivered a similar growth trajectory when they joined Noodles

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eight years ago, increasing the restaurant base from 100 to 327 between 2005 and 2012, a CAGR of 16.0%. Kevin and Keith have assembled a talented senior management team with restaurant experience across a broad range of disciplines, including menu innovation, marketing, restaurant operations, real estate, finance and accounting, supply chain management and information technology. We believe our management team is integral to our success and has positioned us well for long-term growth.

Steady, Reliable Financial Performance

        Our globally inspired flavors and differentiated dining experience have resonated with our guests and have resulted in our track record of building profitable restaurants. Since 2008, our revenue and income from operations have grown at CAGRs of 15.2% and 67.5%, respectively. We achieved our sales growth through a combination of new restaurant openings and comparable restaurant sales increases. Our approach has resulted in stable gross margins despite minimal price increases and allows us to stay true to our principle of quality food at a price we believe is attractive to our guests. By design, our selection of dishes is comprised of a diverse collection of ingredients, mitigating exposure to commodity price inflation.

A Clear Path Forward

        We believe we have significant growth potential because of our brand positioning, strong unit economics, financial results and broad guest appeal. We believe there are significant opportunities to expand our business, strengthen our competitive position and enhance our brand through the continued implementation of the following strategies:

Continuing to Grow Our Restaurant Base

        We have more than doubled our restaurant base in the last six years to 339 locations in 25 states and the District of Columbia, as of April 30, 2013, including 13 company-owned restaurants opened in 2013. In 2012, we opened 39 company-owned restaurants and six franchise restaurants. In 2013, we plan to open between 38 and 42 company-owned restaurants and between six and eight franchise restaurants. We believe we are at an early stage of nationwide expansion, and that we can grow to 2,500 restaurants over the next 15-20 years across the United States based on our scalable infrastructure, broad appeal and flexible and portable real estate model. Our restaurants are typically 2,600 to 2,700 square feet and are located in end-cap, inline or free-standing locations across a variety of urban and suburban markets. Our near-term growth strategy will involve opening units in mature markets and expanding into new markets.

        Although we expect the majority of our expansion to continue to be from company-owned restaurants, we are strategically expanding our base of franchise restaurants. Our franchise program is a low cost and high return model that allows us to expand our footprint and build brand awareness in markets that we do not plan to enter in the short to medium term. As of April 30, 2013, we have 51 franchise units in 10 states operated by eight franchisees. We look for experienced, well-capitalized franchise partners who are able to leverage their existing infrastructure and local knowledge in a manner that benefits both our franchisees and ourselves. For example, in 2012, we entered into development agreements with large area developers in Boston, Long Island and New Jersey, which could lead to the opening of over 100 restaurants over the next 11 years in those markets. Each of these franchisees has prior experience operating other fast casual concepts in its market and will complement our growth in adjacent, non-competing geographies. As of April 30, 2013, a total of 12 area developers have signed development agreements providing for the opening of 177 additional restaurants in their respective territories.

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Improving Our Performance

        Our system-wide comparable restaurant sales growth for 2012 was 5.4%. We plan to build on our growth performance by increasing brand awareness, guest frequency, new guest visits, per person spend and sales outside our restaurants. The following is our plan to achieve these goals:

    Heighten brand awareness.  We believe that our food is our best currency and that once people try it they become loyal and repeat guests; however, before guests can try our food, they need to know about us. We differentiate Noodles & Company through an innovative, community-based marketing strategy at the corporate and restaurant level to build brand awareness and guest loyalty. We engage media outlets in our communities to execute locally tailored marketing programs. Our restaurant managers engage in local relationship marketing where they approach nearby businesses, groups and individuals for appreciation days, tastings and hero lunches to introduce our neighbors to our food. We also communicate directly to the 600,000 members in our Noodlegram club, which provides the latest Company news and special offers. We also use our other social media outlets to promote brand awareness and were named among the Top 10 "Most Loved" food and restaurant brands in social media in a survey conducted by DigitalCoco.

    Increase existing guest frequency.  We recently refreshed the interior signage in all of our restaurants to encourage menu exploration, which we believe will increase guest frequency. Our new Welcome Wall menu board, placed at the entrance of each of our company-owned restaurants, shows pictures of our dishes in an easily understandable layout so guests can fully grasp our world of flavors without feeling overwhelmed. We believe this merchandising enables our guests to peruse our offerings without feeling the pressure of holding up a line of hungry people. This new merchandising has already resulted in meaningful improvements to AUVs in the restaurants where it has been implemented, and we expect similar results in the rest of our restaurant base. We encourage guests to explore their tastes and make adventurous selections of items that are either new to the menu or new to them by promising to serve them their favorite dish at no charge if they do not enjoy their adventurous selection.

    Increase new guest visits.  We would like to be top-of-mind for guests whenever they need to eat, drink or simply find a place where they feel welcome. Although we serve our food quickly, we would like guests to view our restaurants as places to dine and enjoy the company of friends and family. To further drive guest visits at dinner, we have recently enhanced our beer and wine offerings and expanded our appetizer selection.

    Improve our per person spend.  While we have generally implemented modest price increases to offset rising costs, we also strive to increase the per person spend by offering additional items, including our expanded beverage selection and appetizers. Our menu development team periodically creates innovative LTOs, which sometimes become permanent menu items, such as our Spinach & Fresh Fruit Salad. In October 2012, we successfully introduced slow-braised naturally raised pork included on our BBQ Mac & Cheese, Peppery Pork Sandwich and as an add on protein. This strategy allows us to offer our guests greater variety and entices them to "opt-up" to a premium menu offering.

    Grow sales outside of our restaurants.  We are taking steps to sell more food outside of our restaurants by marketing our larger Square Bowls to families and local businesses. We believe the convenience and price point of our Square Bowls will drive take-out and catering sales. In addition, we believe our commitment to speed of service and freshly prepared food provides us with an opportunity to expand catering sales.

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Properties

        As of April 30, 2013, we and our franchisees operated 339 restaurants in 25 states and the District of Columbia. Our restaurants are typically 2,600 to 2,700 square feet and are located in a variety of suburban, urban and small markets. We lease the property for our central support office and all of the properties on which we operate restaurants.

        The map and chart below show the locations of our company-owned and franchised restaurants as of April 30, 2013.

GRAPHIC

State
  Company-
owned
  Franchise   Total  

California

    7         7  

Colorado

    50         50  

Connecticut

        1     1  

Delaware

    1         1  

District of Columbia

    2         2  

Idaho

    2         2  

Illinois

    42     4     46  

Indiana

    3     14     17  

Iowa

    7     1     8  

Kansas

    8         8  

Kentucky

    1         1  

Maryland

    19         19  

Michigan

        14     14  

Minnesota

    32         32  

Missouri

    4     7     11  

Nebraska

        4     4  

North Carolina

    8         8  

North Dakota

        2     2  

Ohio

    14         14  

Oregon

    5         5  

Pennsylvania

    6         6  

Tennessee

    4     1     5  

Texas

    6         6  

Utah

    11         11  

Virginia

    24         24  

Wisconsin

    32     3     35  
               

    288     51     339  

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        We are obligated under non-cancelable leases for our restaurants and our central support office. Our restaurant leases generally have initial terms of 10 years with two or more five-year extensions. Our restaurant leases generally have renewal options and generally require us to pay a proportionate share of real estate taxes, insurance, common area maintenance charges and other operating costs. Some restaurant leases provide for contingent rental payments based on sales thresholds, although we generally do not expect to pay significant contingent rent on these properties based on the thresholds in those leases.

        In 2012, we opened 39 company-owned restaurants and six franchise restaurants. In 2013, we plan to open between 38 and 42 company-owned restaurants and between six and eight franchise restaurants, which includes the 13 company-owned restaurants we have opened through April 30, 2013. The following table shows the growth in our network of company-owned and franchise restaurants for 2012, 2011 and 2010:

 
  Fiscal Year Ended   Fiscal
Quarter
Ended
 
 
  January 1,
2013
  January 3,
2012
  December 28,
2010
  April 2, 2013  

Company-Owned Restaurant Activity

                         

Beginning of period

    239     212     186     276  

Openings

    39     28     28     9  

Closures and relocations(1)

    (2 )   (1 )   (2 )   (1 )
                   

Restaurants at end of period

    276     239     212     284  
                   

Franchise Restaurant Activity

                         

Beginning of period

    45     43     43     51  

Openings

    6     2          

Closures and relocations(1)

                 
                   

Restaurants at end of period

    51     45     43     51  
                   

Total restaurants

    327     284     255     335  
                   

(1)
We account for relocated restaurants under both openings and closures and relocations. During both 2012 and 2010 we closed one restaurant and relocated another restaurant. In fiscal 2011 and the first quarter of 2013, we closed one restaurant at the end of its lease term.

Site Development and Expansion

        We consider our site selection and development process critical to our long-term success. We use a combination of our own development team and outside real estate consultants to locate, evaluate and negotiate new sites using various criteria. Each member of our in-house real estate team has at least 15 years of experience with one or more high growth restaurant or retail concepts, such as Chipotle, Panera, Potbelly, Sonic, EB Games and Luxottica. In addition, because we offer a mix of dishes and a dining experience that differs from many other restaurant concepts, we believe our restaurants are highly sought after by real estate owners and developers. We often are made aware of opportunities early in their development process, allowing us to secure optimal locations.

        In making site selection decisions, we also use several analytical tools designed to uncover the key site, demographic, business, retail, competitive and traffic characteristics that drive successful locations. These tools have been customized to leverage existing real estate information to project sales of a potential location and to assist in the development of local marketing plans.

        Our ability to succeed in several different kinds of trade areas and real estate types has allowed us flexibility in our market development strategy. While we typically target end cap or freestanding locations, we also have seen success in inline locations. Moreover, we perform well in various market sizes, from

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smaller markets to suburbs to central business districts. This flexibility also allows us to manage risk in our development portfolio by balancing higher cost locations—typically seen in urban areas—with those that are lower cost—typically seen in smaller markets.

        Once a location has been approved by our executive level selection committee, we begin a design process to match the characteristics and feel of the location to the trade area. For example, in a trade area with a high percentage of families we will utilize additional booth seating in the dining room, and in an urban location we will typically alter our kitchen design to enhance throughput for the busy lunch hours.

Restaurant Management and Operations

        Friendly People.    We believe our genuine, nice people separate us from our competitors. We value the individuality of our team members, which we believe results in a management, operations and training philosophy distinct from that of our competitors. We make an effort to hire team members who share a passion for food, have a competitive spirit and will operate our restaurants in a way that is consistent with our high standards. We seek to hire individuals who will deliver prompt, attentive service by engaging guests the moment they enter our restaurants. We empower our team members to enrich the experience of our guests and directly address any concerns that may arise in a manner that contributes to the success of our business.

        Restaurant Management and Employees.    Each restaurant typically has a restaurant manager, an assistant manager and as many as 15 to 25 team members. We cross-train our employees in an effort to create a depth of competency in our critical restaurant functions. Consistent with our emphasis on guest interaction, we encourage our restaurant managers and team members to welcome and interact with guests throughout the day. To lead our restaurant management teams, we have area managers (each of whom is responsible for between five and 12 restaurants), as well as market directors (each of whom is responsible for between 50 and 80 restaurants).

        Training and Career Development.    We believe that our training efforts create a culture of continuous learning and professional growth that allows our team members to continue their career development with us. Within each restaurant, two to four team members are designated to lead the training efforts and ensure a consistent approach to team member development. We produce training materials that encourage individual contributions and participation on the part of our team members, rather than providing rote, step-by-step scripts or rigid and extensively detailed policy manuals.

        Food Preparation and Quality.    Our teams use classic professional cooking methods, including hand-chopping, par boiling and sautéing many of our vegetables, in full kitchens resembling those of full service restaurants. All team members, including our restaurant managers, spend their first several days working solely with food and learning these techniques, and we spend a significant amount of time ensuring that each team member learns how to prepare and cook our food properly. Despite our more labor-intensive method of food preparation, we believe that we produce food with an efficiency that enables us to compete effectively.

        We have over 200 company-owned restaurants with exhibition-style kitchens. This design demonstrates our commitment to cooking fresh food in an accessible manner. We provide each guest with individual attention and make every effort to respond to guest suggestions and concerns in a personal and hospitable way.

        We have designed our food safety and quality assurance programs to maintain high standards for our food and food preparation procedures. Our quality assurance manager oversees comprehensive restaurant and supplier audits based upon the potential food safety risk of each food. We also consider food safety and quality assurance when selecting our distributors and suppliers. Our suppliers are inspected by federal, state and local regulators or other reputable, qualified inspection services, which helps ensure their compliance with all federal food safety and quality guidelines. We regularly inspect our suppliers to ensure

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that the ingredients we buy conform to our quality standards and that the prices we pay are competitive. We also rely on our own recipes, specifications and protocols to ensure that our food is consistently the best quality possible when served, including a physical examination of ingredients when they arrive at our restaurants. We train our employees to pay detailed attention to food quality at every stage of the food preparation cycle and have developed a daily checklist that our employees use to assess the freshness and quality of food supplies. Finally, we encourage our guests to provide feedback regarding our food quality so that we can identify and resolve problems or concerns as quickly as possible.

Restaurant Marketing

        Our marketing efforts seek to increase sales through a variety of channels and initiatives. Community-based restaurant marketing, as well as online, social and other media tools, highlights our competitive strengths, including our varied and healthy menu offerings and the value we offer our guests.

    Local Relationship Marketing.  We differentiate our business through an innovative, community-based approach to building brand awareness and guest loyalty. We use a wide range of local marketing initiatives to increase the frequency of and occasions for visits, and to encourage people to get know us better, try our food and bring their friends. We empower our local restaurant managers to selectively organize events to bring new guests into our restaurants. For example, our team members will invite a guest to bring a group of his or her friends for a "hero lunch," an exclusive menu tasting at their local Noodles location.

    Our Menu Offerings.  We focus some of our marketing efforts on new menu offerings to broaden our appeal to our guests. We offer LTOs and seasonal items such as our Garden Pesto Sauté featuring ingredients and flavors to maintain guest interest, which we promote through a variety of formats, including market-wide public relations events, direct mailings, social media marketing, radio promotions, tastings, billboard and bus board advertising and targeted print advertising. In addition to increasing brand awareness, these promotions also encourage prompt consumer action, resulting in more immediate increases in guest traffic.

    Creating New Meal Occasions.  We also focus on ways Noodles & Company can serve guests at different times and in new places. For example, guests who want to feed a large group can enjoy our Square Bowls, which are family-style take-out offerings of our noodles, pastas and salads that generally feed up to four people. We market this new offering in a variety of ways, including in-restaurant posters, as well as Noodlegrams, Facebook posts and other communications outside our restaurants.

    Making Noodles & Company Easier to Use.  Some of our marketing efforts focus on making our restaurants easier to use. We seek to deliver superior guest service at every opportunity, generating consumer awareness of menu offerings with in-restaurant communications by providing displays of our menu offerings and beer and wine selection visible upon entry, chalkboards featuring new menu offerings and fresh ingredients and table top cards that highlight healthy food offerings. By providing multiple points of access to our wide variety of menu offerings, we seek to optimize our guests' in-restaurant experience in order to increase the frequency of our guests' visits. Our efforts also make use of tools like online ordering.

    Online, Social and Other Media Tools.  We rely on our website, www.noodles.com, to promote our business and increase brand awareness. The information on or available through our website is not, and should not be considered, a part of this prospectus. Our guests are encouraged to sign up to receive email Noodlegrams updating them on new menu offerings, LTOs and promotional opportunities. As of April 2, 2013, more than 600,000 of our guests have signed up to receive Noodlegrams. We also communicate with our guests using social media, such as our Facebook page, our YouTube channel and our Twitter feed. Our media tools also include placements in local, regional and national print media.

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Suppliers

        Maintaining a high degree of quality in our restaurants depends in part on our ability to acquire fresh ingredients and other necessary supplies that meet our specifications from reliable suppliers. We carefully select suppliers based on quality and their understanding of our brand, and we seek to develop mutually beneficial long-term relationships with them. We work closely with our suppliers and use a mix of forward, fixed and formula pricing protocols. We have tried to increase, in some cases, the number of suppliers for our ingredients, which we believe can help mitigate pricing volatility, and we monitor industry news, trade issues, weather, crises and other world events that may affect supply prices.

Seasonality

        Seasonal factors and the timing of holidays cause our revenue to fluctuate from quarter to quarter. Our revenue per restaurant is typically lower in the first and fourth quarters due to reduced winter and holiday traffic and higher in the second and third quarters.

Franchising

        We had eight franchise area developers who operated 51 franchise restaurants in 10 states as of April 30, 2013. A total of 12 area developers have signed area development agreements providing for the opening of 177 additional restaurants in their respective territories. We expect to continue to offer development rights in markets where we do not intend to build company-owned restaurants. We may offer such rights to larger developers who commit to open 10 or more units, or to smaller developers who may commit to open significantly fewer restaurants. We do not currently intend to offer single-unit franchises. We believe the strength and attractiveness of our brand and unit growth opportunities in attractive undeveloped markets will attract experienced and well-capitalized area developers.

Intellectual Property and Trademarks

        We own a number of trademarks and service marks registered or pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO"). We have registered the following marks with the PTO: Noodles & Company, the Noodles & Company logo, Your World Kitchen, Square Bowl, Noodlegram, Crave Card and Wisconsin Mac & Cheese. We also have certain trademarks registered or pending in certain foreign countries. In addition, we have registered the Internet domain name www.noodles.com. The information on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not part of this prospectus.

        We believe that our trademarks, service marks and other intellectual property rights have significant value and are important to the marketing of our brand, and it is our policy to protect and defend vigorously our rights to such intellectual property. However, we cannot predict whether steps taken to protect such rights will be adequate. See "Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which could harm the value of our brand and adversely affect our business."

Governmental Regulation and Environmental Matters

        We are subject to extensive and varied federal, state and local government regulation, including regulations relating to public and occupational health and safety, sanitation and fire prevention. We operate each of our restaurants in accordance with standards and procedures designed to comply with applicable codes and regulations. However, an inability to obtain or retain health department or other licenses would adversely affect our operations. Although we have not experienced, and do not anticipate, any significant difficulties, delays or failures in obtaining required licenses, permits or approvals, any such problem could delay or prevent the opening of, or adversely impact the viability of, a particular restaurant or group of restaurants.

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        In addition, in order to develop and construct restaurants, we need to comply with applicable zoning, land use and environmental regulations. Federal and state environmental regulations have not had a material effect on our operations to date, but more stringent and varied requirements of local governmental bodies with respect to zoning, land use and environmental factors could delay or even prevent construction and increase development costs for new restaurants. We are also required to comply with the accessibility standards mandated by the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act, which generally prohibits discrimination in accommodation or employment based on disability. We may in the future have to modify restaurants, for example by adding access ramps or redesigning certain architectural fixtures, to provide service to or make reasonable accommodations for disabled persons. While these expenses could be material, our current expectation is that any such actions will not require us to expend substantial funds.

        A small amount of our revenues is attributable to the sale of alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverage control regulations require each of our restaurants to apply to a state authority and, in certain locations, county or municipal authorities for a license that must be renewed annually and may be revoked or suspended for cause at any time. Alcoholic beverage control regulations relate to numerous aspects of daily operations of our restaurants, including minimum age of patrons and employees, hours of operation, advertising, trade practices, wholesale purchasing, other relationships with alcohol manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, inventory control and handling, storage and dispensing of alcoholic beverages. We are also subject in certain states to "dram shop" statutes, which generally provide a person injured by an intoxicated person the right to recover damages from an establishment that wrongfully served alcoholic beverages to the intoxicated person. We carry liquor liability coverage as part of our existing comprehensive general liability insurance. A small number of our restaurants do not have liquor licenses, typically because of the cost of a liquor license in jurisdictions having liquor license quotas.

        In addition, we are subject to the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, the U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and various other federal and state laws governing similar matters including minimum wages, overtime, workplace safety and other working conditions. We are also subject to various laws and regulations relating to our current and any future franchise operations. See "Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—Governmental regulation may adversely affect our ability to open new restaurants or otherwise adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations."

        We are subject to federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations concerning waste disposal, pollution, protection of the environment, and the presence, discharge, storage, handling, release and disposal of, or exposure to, hazardous or toxic substances ("environmental laws"). These environmental laws can provide for significant fines and penalties for non-compliance and liabilities for remediation, sometimes without regard to whether the owner or operator of the property knew of, or was responsible for, the release or presence of the hazardous or toxic substances. Third parties may also make claims against owners or operators of properties for personal injuries and property damage associated with releases of, or actual or alleged exposure to, such substances. We are not aware of any environmental laws that will materially affect our earnings or competitive position, or result in material capital expenditures relating to our restaurants. However, we cannot predict what environmental laws will be enacted in the future, how existing or future environmental laws will be administered, interpreted or enforced, or the amount of future expenditures that we may need to make to comply with, or to satisfy claims relating to, environmental laws. It is possible that we will become subject to environmental liabilities at our properties, and any such liabilities could materially affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. See "Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business and Industry—Compliance with environmental laws may negatively affect our business."

Management Information Systems

        All of our restaurants use computerized management information systems, which we believe are scalable to support our future growth plans. We use point-of-sale computers designed specifically for the

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restaurant industry. The system provides a touch screen interface, a graphical order confirmation display and integrated, high-speed credit card and gift card processing. The point-of-sale system is used to collect daily transaction data, which generates information about daily sales, product mix and average check that we actively analyze. All products sold and prices at our company-owned restaurants are programmed into the system from our central support office.

        Our in-restaurant back office computer system is designed to assist in the management of our restaurants and provide labor and food cost management tools. These tools provide corporate and restaurant operations management quick access to detailed business data and reduces restaurant managers' administrative time. The system provides our restaurant managers the ability to submit orders electronically with our distribution network. The system also supplies sales, bank deposit and variance data to our accounting department on a daily basis. We use this data to generate daily sales information and weekly consolidated reports regarding sales and other key measures, as well as preliminary weekly detailed profit and loss statements for each location with final reports following the end of each period.

        Franchisees use similar point of sale systems and are required to report sales on a daily basis through an on-line reporting network and submit their restaurant-level financial statements on a quarterly or annual basis.

Employees

        As of April 2, 2013, we had approximately 7,000 employees, including 700 salaried employees and 6,300 hourly employees. None of our employees are unionized or covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and we consider our current employee relations to be good.

Legal Proceedings

        We are currently involved in various claims and legal actions that arise in the ordinary course of business. We do not believe that the ultimate resolution of these actions will have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations, liquidity or capital resources. However, a significant increase in the number of these claims or an increase in amounts owing under successful claims could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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MANAGEMENT

Directors and Executive Officers

        The following table sets forth certain information regarding our board of directors and executive officers.

Name
  Age(1)   Position

Kevin Reddy

  55   Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Keith Kinsey

  58   President, Chief Operating Officer and Director

Dave Boennighausen

  35   Chief Financial Officer

Dan Fogarty

  51   Executive Vice President of Marketing

Phil Petrilli

  43   Executive Vice President of Operations

Paul Strasen

  56   Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary

Kathy Lockhart

  48   Vice President and Controller

Scott Dahnke

  47   Director

Stuart Frenkiel

  33   Director

James Pittman

  49   Director

James Rand

  70   Director

Andrew Taub

  44   Director

(1)
As of March 15, 2013

        Kevin Reddy has served as our Chief Executive Officer since April 2006. He became a member of our board of directors in May 2006, and Chairman of the Board in May 2008. Mr. Reddy was our President and Chief Operating Officer from April 2005 to April 2006, continuing to serve as our President until July 2012. Prior to joining us, he was the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Operations Officer and Restaurant Support Officer for Chipotle Mexican Grill. Mr. Reddy began his professional career with McDonald's Corporation in 1983 as a regional controller and progressed into positions of escalating responsibility. Mr. Reddy has received a number of awards in connection with his role as our Chief Executive Officer, including being named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by Restaurant Business Magazine in 2009 and, most recently, a 2012 "All-Star CEO" by Restaurant Finance Monitor. He currently serves on the executive advisory board to the Daniels School of Business at the University of Denver. He received a BS in Accounting from Duquesne University. He brings to our Board of Directors leadership skills, strategic guidance and operational vision from prior experience in our industry.

        Keith Kinsey has served as our President since July 2012 and our Chief Operating Officer since November 2007. Mr. Kinsey also served as our Chief Financial Officer from July 2005 to July 2012. He became a member of our board of directors in November 2008. Prior to joining us, he was the Pacific Regional Director for Chipotle Mexican Grill. Prior to that time, he held various management roles at McDonald's Corporation, PepsiCo Restaurant Group and Checkers Drive-In Restaurants. He received a BS in Accounting from the University of Illinois, and is a Certified Public Accountant. He brings to our Board of Directors leadership skills, strategic guidance and operational vision from prior experience in our industry.

        Dave Boennighausen has served as our Chief Financial Officer since July 2012. Mr. Boennighausen has been with the Company since 2004, and served as our Vice President of Finance from October 2007 to March 2011, and as our Executive Vice President of Finance from April 2011 to February 2012. He began his career with May Department Stores. He received a BS in Finance and Marketing from Truman State University and holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

        Dan Fogarty has served as our Executive Vice President of Marketing since October 2010. Prior to joining us, Mr. Fogarty has been with the Company since 2009, serving as Vice President of Marketing from June 2009 to October 2010. Mr. Fogarty was Vice President of Marketing for The Pump Energy Food

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from May 2008 until May 2009. Prior to that time, he worked at Potbelly Sandwich Works and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Mr. Fogarty began his career working for a number of advertising agencies and had his own brand consulting firm for five years. He received a BA in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Kansas.

        Phil Petrilli has served as our Executive Vice President of Operations since May 2012. Prior to joining us, he worked for Chipotle Mexican Grill in multiple operations positions from June 1999 to May 2012, most recently as Regional Director—Northeast Region from 2008 to 2012, where he led a region of 268 restaurants. He received a degree in Industrial Psychology from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

        Paul Strasen has served as our Executive Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel since January 2008. Prior to joining our company, Mr. Strasen was the Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Houlihan's Restaurants, Inc. and served as the General Counsel of Einstein/Noah Bagel Corp. He began his career at Bell Boyd & Lloyd, now part of K & L Gates. Mr. Strasen received a BA in Humanities and Political Science from Valparaiso University and received a JD from The University of Chicago Law School.

        Kathy Lockhart has served as our Vice President and Controller since August 2006. Prior to joining us, Ms. Lockhart served as the Vice President and Controller of several public and private restaurant and retail companies, including Einstein/Noah Bagel Corp, Boston Market, VICORP (parent company of Village Inn and Bakers Square restaurants) and Ultimate Electronics. She re