Noodles & Company and WOWorks join Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance’s Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership Program | Global Franchise
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Sunday 5th February, 2023

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Noodles & Company and WOWorks join Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance’s Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership Program

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Noodles & Company and WOWorks join Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance’s Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership Program

The two brands have made commitments to diversity and black ownership by entering this program

The Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA) has announced that Noodles & Company and WOWorks are the first restaurant franchises to adopt the Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership Program. It was launched in 2020 by the MFHA with a $2.5m commitment from PepsiCo. The Pathways program is intended to help Black entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to develop and operate their own franchise units. 

“It’s an honor to partner with the MFHA to advocate for greater diversity and inclusion in the restaurant space,” said Kelly Roddy, CEO of WOWorks.  

“We want to give more Black entrepreneurs the opportunity to become a part of our family of healthy fast-casual brands, which can also boost their communities. Increasing the number of African-American business owners in the nation starts with franchisors like us, and we are committed to fostering and supporting franchisees every step of the way.” 

MFHA has set a goal of 100 new Black-owned franchises by the end of 2023. Noodles & Company and WOWorks will be key partners with the MFHA and have integrated the program into their development departments and unit growth strategies. The companies will provide specialist training, coaching and mentoring to Pathways participants. 

MFHA developed Pathways with 4thMVMT, a social equity organization that vets, trains, facilitates funding, and partners with individuals from underserved communities to own and operate competitive businesses.  

“Earlier this year, Noodles & Company advanced our own inclusion and diversity initiatives by taking the CEO Action pledge and we see becoming one of the first restaurant brands to partner with MFHA on Pathways as a natural next step in that journey,” said John Ramsay, Noodles & Company vice president of franchise sales.  

“It was an easy choice. Not only do our values align when it comes to increasing diversity in our organization, but the platform has the potential to grow beyond Black franchises, empowering all voices to operate high-performing businesses.” 

Pathways are looking to work closely with more restaurants and is working with the National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Education Foundation to expand the program. 

“While our industry is one of the most diverse in the U.S., underrepresentation in ownership is clear with only eight percent of restaurants being Black-owned,” said Gerry Fernandez, president and founder of MFHA.  

“Training and access to capital remain significant barriers for Black entrepreneurs who want to own their own business. Through Pathways and this exciting collaboration with WOWorks and Noodles & Company, we can make restaurant ownership more attainable than ever before. We hope other franchisors will join us as well to make this a reality for more people.” 

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