The wait is finally over for family and friends of Rock Island native Tom Weigand.
Monday, the Rock Island High School and Augustana College graduate opens his first Noodles & Company restaurant in the Quad-Cities.
The restaurant at 53rd Street and Elmore Avenue in Davenport opens at 11 a.m. Monday. The two-building strip center also includes a Starbucks store that opened Nov. 9.
The rapidly growing Noodles chain features entrees in a variety of American, Asian and Mediterranean flavors, from penne pasta to chicken noodle soup. The quick-casual menu also includes noodle and vegetable bowls, soups, and green salads with pasta.
“We’ve had so much attention to this location,” Weigand said. “I know a lot of folks in the community, and they have been asking me to come down here with Noodles. There is a lot of demand.
“People have traveled to other places where they have Noodles restaurants, and they come back and say ‘Hey, we want it at home.’ ”
Weigand said the new staff of about 30 employees has been in training the past two weeks. For many passersby, it has looked like the restaurant already had opened. Weigand said he noticed that during one early evening.
“We had a number of people come up to the door. There must have been 20 to 30 people walk up, thinking we were open one day from about 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.”
But popular demand may be outweighed by family demand. Weigand has lots of family living in the Quad-City area, including his mother and two sisters.
“I keep telling my family, we are going to be so busy, I will take them over at 3 in the afternoon,” on the opening day.
Weigand’s history with Noodles started in the early 1980s when he attended Augustana with Aaron Kennedy from Mount Carroll, Ill. They became good friends and when Kennedy developed the idea for the restaurant in the early 1990s, he and Weigand began working together to develop the restaurant chain, opening locations in Colorado and Wisconsin within months.
For more than nine years, they worked together to build up the business. Today, Noodles & Company has 152 stores in 15 states. Three years ago, Weigand stepped down from the company and decided to build and own his own franchise stores. He opened a store in Bloomington, Ill., two weeks ago and the Davenport store makes it his seventh in his chain of franchise stores.
Weigand has spent more than 20 years as an entrepreneur in real estate, restaurants and urban planning. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from Augustana and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His current title is founder and president of IWI Ventures, a Noodles & Company franchised area operator, whose development area includes central Illinois, Iowa and central Wisconsin.
Greg Reedy, area manager for Weigand’s restaurants, expects big things from the Davenport site and the employees. The location is prime — at perhaps the busiest intersection in the Quad-City area.
“Especially with Starbucks there, two restaurants, it’s a good draw,” he said. “People can sit and relax after shopping.”
As part of the grand opening of the first Noodles & Company restaurant in the Quad-Cities, the Davenport business will host a Week of Giving during the week of Dec. 3 with fundraising events being held for area school groups each night. Ten percent of all sales from 4-9 p.m. will be donated to each group. Participating school groups are Bettendorf Middle School Parent Link, Dec. 3; Grant Wood Elementary PTA, Dec. 5; and Paul Norton Elementary PTA, Dec. 6. Two additional school groups are expected to be added.
Doug Schorpp can be contacted at (563) 383-2292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.