Aaron Kennedy is the founder of Noodles & Company, a high growth quick casual restaurant with over 300 locations around the U.S. He launched the business in 1995, was CEO until 2006, and Chairman until 2008.
He is now in the midst of completing a two-year assignment as the Chief Marketing Officer of the State of Colorado. His mission is to develop and implement a brand identity platform for the state that inspires our residents, unifies the state programs and helps Colorado become more competitive in the global marketplace for Talent, Trade and Tourism.
Prior to launching Noodles & Company, Kennedy worked as Marketing Director in NY for the design firm Cato Gobe (now Brandimage), directing branding and design projects for Coca-Cola, Warner Lambert, Swiss Army Products, and the PGA Tour. In the early 90’s, as brand manager for Pepsi Cola, he managed brand strategy, consumer research, national advertising and promotional campaigns for Brand Pepsi, and while at Kraft/General Foods (Oscar Mayer division) in the late 80’s he led consumer research projects in the development and launch of Lunchables, now a $1 billion brand.
In addition, he is a member of the Inc 500 Hall of Fame for making the Inc 500 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies five years in a row, and has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. Mr. Kennedy earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism and English at Augustana College (’85) in his home state of Illinois and his MBA from University of Wisconsin-Madison (’89).