Our Head Noodlers

Drew Madsen

Chief Executive Officer

Drew Madsen is a proven C-suite executive and Board Member with a track record of leading businesses that deliver competitively superior sales growth and shareholder returns. Highly valued for his ability to establish and execute a winning growth strategy. Strong general management, brand-building and culture-building experience on iconic brands at best-in-class companies.

Drew is currently an Independent Board Director at Noodles & Company, a $450 million pioneering fast-casual restaurant chain. He previously served as an Independent Director on the Board of Talbots Inc., the iconic specialty retailer of women’s fashion. And for nearly ten years Drew was a Board member at Darden Restaurants, the world’s largest full-service restaurant company.

He has also been President and Chief Operating Officer on some of the most successful and well-respected businesses in the restaurant industry.

Most recently, Drew was President of Panera Bread and helped achieve industry leadership in clean food, digital sales and home/office delivery. Combined with significantly improved operations execution and aggressive cost reduction, this led to the strongest same-restaurant sales growth in the last four years, steadily improving earnings and positioned the business for sustained double digit earnings growth going forward.

His professional experience prior to Panera includes fifteen years at Darden, the world’s largest full-service restaurant company, with annual sales of $8.6 billion and more than 200,000 employees.

Drew was President & Chief Operating Officer for nearly ten years. During his tenure, he helped establish Darden as the most successful multi-brand operator in full service dining, generating a total shareholder return of 110% (CAGR of 10%) that exceeded the S&P 500 by 47%. Same-restaurant sales exceeded the industry by +217 basis points per year on average. And Darden was the first restaurant company to be recognized by Fortune as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” achieving that distinction for three consecutive years.

He began his career with General Mills in brand management and progressed from Marketing Assistant to VP of Marketing while working on category leading brands such as Wheaties cereal and Yoplait yogurt.

Drew holds an MBA with Distinction from the University of Michigan. He earned a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from DePauw University, where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

 

Mike Hynes

Chief Financial Officer

Mike Hynes brings 25 years of finance and accounting experience to Noodles & Company. Prior to Noodles, Mike was an integral leader at Ruth’s Hospitality Group where he held several roles in finance and accounting, most notably the role of Vice President of Finance and Accounting for Ruth’s Chris Steak House, one of the largest fine-dining steakhouse concepts in the world. In this role, he led investor relations and SEC reporting; oversaw strategic financial planning and analysis; was responsible for budgeting, forecasting, sales and operations analysis; and led new restaurant financial site evaluation. Prior to Ruth’s Chris, Mike held managerial positions in several accounting firms, including RSM and Deloitte, where he started his career in 1998. Mike is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Accounting from Auburn University as well as a Master of Accountancy from The University of Georgia.

 

Kathy Lockhart

Chief Accounting Officer

Kathy Lockhart has served as our Chief Accounting Officer since August 2020.  Prior to that time she served as Vice President and Controller from August 2006 to July 2020. Prior to joining us, Ms. Lockhart served as the Vice President and Controller of several public and private restaurant and retail companies, including Einstein’s, Boston Market, VICORP (parent company of Village Inn and Bakers Square restaurants) and Ultimate Electronics. She received a BA degree in Business Administration and Political Science from Western Colorado State University, and she is a CPA and CGMA.

 

Brad West

Chief Operating Officer

Brad West has served as our Chief Operating Officer since March 2021.  Prior to that time, he served as Executive Vice President of Operations from September 2017 to February 2021. Mr. West has an extensive background in leading and directing company and franchise operations, including training in the restaurant industry over the past 40 years. Prior to joining us, he served as Vice President, Operations of Smoothie King Franchises, Inc. from 2014 through August 2017, whose principal business was the sale of smoothies and retail merchandise including vitamins, minerals, protein powders and power bars. Prior to that role, he was Chief Operating Officer of ACG Pizza Partners LLC, and he had earlier spent 15 years at Einstein’s, most recently as Senior Vice President, Non-Traditional Business, where he was responsible for the operations, development and growth of over 250 Einstein Bros. Bagels license locations. Mr. West also held key operational roles at CEC Entertainment, Inc., Applebee’s International, Inc. franchise groups and S&A Restaurant Corporation.

 

Melissa M. Heidman

Executive Vice-President, General Counsel

Melissa M. Heidman has served as our Associate General Counsel since August of 2011, as Vice President since September of 2015 and was most recently appointed as Acting General Counsel and Secretary in December of 2017. Prior to joining our company, Melissa was Special Counsel in the law firm of Berg Hill Greenleaf & Ruscitti. She began her career serving as a Law Clerk for the District Court of Iowa, the Iowa Supreme Court and, later, as Law Clerk and Staff Attorney for the Superior Court of Guam. Melissa received a BA in Political Science from the University of Iowa and received a J.D. from Drake University Law School.

 

Corey Kline

Executive Vice-President, Technology

Corey Kline joined Noodles in September of 2011 as Director of IT and assumed responsibility as Vice President of IT in July 2016.  Prior to joining Noodles, Corey worked at Famous Dave’s from March 2007 through September 2011 where he was Enterprise Applications and Risk Manager. Prior to his time in the restaurant industry Corey worked as a technology audit professional (Jefferson Wells from 2005-2006), telecom technology consultant (Accenture from 2001-2005) and software engineer (IBM from June 2000 through April 2001). Corey earned a BA in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science and emphasis in Secondary Education from Luther College.

 

Jennilee Childs

Vice-President, Human Resources

Jennilee Childs joined Noodles in 2019 and, as of March 2024, assumed the role of Vice President of Human Resources. In her capacity, Jennilee spearheads the development and execution of the Company’s people strategy, collaborating closely with operations leaders to implement successful initiatives. With prior experience in customer-service-based industries such as restaurants, retail, and real estate, including roles at Rock Bottom Restaurants and Lowe’s Home Improvement, Jennilee brings a wealth of expertise to her role. Holding an MBA from The George Washington University, she excels in driving initiatives to enhance employee engagement, optimize support for business priorities, and foster a culture of inclusion.