August 21, 2002
Noodles can be traced back about 7,000 years to ancient China, but in the City of Fairfax, the noodle goes back to July 8 when Noodles & Co. opened on Main Street, serving up Chinese, Italian, Thai and even Wisconsin varieties.
Fairfax Station resident Richard LaPerch was with them since Day 1 as a server. He is getting a grip on noodle etiquette.
“You have some people that are pretty particular about their noodles. A lot more slurping used than cutting, more chopsticks are used than I’m used to,” LaPerch said.
The Thai Curry Soup ($4.95) is a good example. A spoon is almost useless, and there are many times the mouth is left hanging open as the noodles slide back in the cloudy, brown broth. LaPerch knows this all too well.
“They’ll eat the noodles and save the broth for the end, depending on how they like it,” he said.
Their other soup, the chicken noodle, suited one Fairfax Station youngster well as her whole meal. She and her mother wanted to remain anonymous.
“I like it,” the little girl said.
Her mother liked the casual atmosphere, which was a cross between a food court and a trendy warehouse-type restaurant. They read about it somewhere.
“It’s a nice alternative to fast food, quality food and nice atmosphere, good prices,” the mother said.
Trang and Quan were Fairfax residents who just saw it driving by one day.
“I had the Chinese. It was good. It’s cooked right there. You can see what they’re doing. It’s a fresh idea,” Quan said.
Shift manager Sean Yetman pitched in with the servers, clearing tables and delivering meals.
“The novelty of the idea, most of the food is low-fat. A little taste of everything,” he said.
THEIR CORNER LOCATION in the recently revamped shopping center off Main Street gives them room for a 20 tables in the room just inside the front door, 11 tables on the side and seven tables outside on the patio. It is called their “open dining room design,” according to the company literature. Artwork hanging from the high ceiling is what they call the “suspended noodle fins.”
The noise from the kitchen, the order line and the soda station set the scene for an informal dining experience. The price is informal, as well. The entrees top out at $5.75 for the pasta fresca, and two meals, with entrée, side dish and drink, are priced in the $21 range. The Japanese pan noodles, $5.25, are the most popular dish, according to Yetman.
The customers order their own dish at the register, where they get a beverage glass and a number. The wait staff brings out the dishes, and a tip is based on the size of the group, according to LaPerch. On the number plate given out at the register, it reads, “Tell us if you don’t like your meal. We’ll happily replace it with a dish that better suits your palate.” That’s where the Wisconsin mac and cheese comes in handy.
Over the summer, two other Noodle & Co. restaurants were scheduled to open, in Pentagon City and College Park, Md.
The first Noodles & Co. opened in 1995 in Denver, Colo. They are headquartered in Boulder and have 46 restaurants throughout Colorado, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Virginia.
<lst>Noodles & Co.
10296 Main St., Fairfax
Monday–Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday, noon-8 p.m.