There’s a pivotal incident Steve Frazier remembers from the countless demonstrations he and his wife Brenda Frazier have done around the Midwest promoting their unique, gluten free noodles.
A man told them he has eaten chili for the past 10 years without noodles because he needed to cut back on pasta for health reasons. He’d gotten used to it, but after trying Dr. Noodles by Brenda, he walked away with a big smile and an armful of pasta packages. “He said, ‘I’m having noodles in my chili tonight!’” Frazer recounts.
The Weston-based company is hoping to spread those smiles nationwide. Dr. Noodles is about to launch a new website to sell the gluten-free noodles across the U.S. Their products also will be available through online retailer Amazon. It's all happening within the next few months, says Frazier, who along with owner Brenda Frazier manufacture the garbanzo bean pasta in the back kitchen of Red Clover Market in Weston, one of several places in town that sells Dr. Noodles.
The expansion will mean new equipment and eventually a new facility. Currently, Dr. Noodles distributes in the Midwest, aiming for smaller markets and Whole Foods-type grocers. Dr. Noodles is close to getting into Whole Foods, in fact; Frazier estimates that will happen in the next six months. “It’s a big challenge,” Frazier says. There are certifications and tests before getting your product into the large grocery chain, he says. “You don’t just walk in.”
The Fraziers currently make about 1,000 units of Dr. Noodles per month, or about 700 pounds of pasta. To meet demand of nationwide sales, the company will buy a new machine that can produce 500 pounds per day. “Right now that would take us about three to five days,” Frazier says.
That’ll mean hiring employees. Frazier estimates the company—now a two-person operation, just the couple themselves—will hire three to five employees to man the machines while Frazier continues to focus on marketing the products.
The noodles have been popular with people who need to go gluten free for medical reasons, or simply want to reduce their carb intake. Because they’re made from beans, they’re packed with fiber and protein, and don’t spike a person’s blood sugar like ordinary pasta does, Frazier says. A few restaurants in Milwaukee, such as Bacchus, a 5-star restaurant on Lake Michigan, are serving Dr. Noodles as a gluten-free alternative when customers ask.
Anyone looking for a healthier pasta alternative is their target customer, Frazier says. “When people come in who haven’t had pasta for a year or more, if they try this, I have them for life,” Frazier says.
Check out Dr. Noodles on DrNoodlesByBrenda.com. The products are sold in the Wausau area at Red Clover Market, Downtown Grocery and Trig’s, and at locations in Wisconsin Rapids, Merrill, Rhinelander, Minocqua, Milwaukee and Madison.