Vital Stats: Adam Willner, 36, of El Cerrito, California-based Zao Noodle Bar
Company: Pan-Asian restaurant chain started in 1996
2001 Sales: $6 million
Something Ventured . . . : "I raised money from a venture capital group and a few small investors. My pitch was very straightforward: just me and a business plan. I think the relatively small amount of capital needed, the fact that I'm a very open person and my industry experience played a role."
"The secret of our success is our dedication to quality and hospitality. We will do anything to satisfy our guest."
Noodles Chic: "Our feeling is hip, high-energy, casual and comfortable. We incorporate materials and colors inspired by Asia: red floors, slatted walnut banquet seating, wallpaper taken from Asian newspapers."
Oodles of Noodles: "We intend to double the size of the company in 18 months, focusing on upscale suburban and urban environments in the greater Bay area and Seattle."
Noodlepreneur: "I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial. Asian noodles were exciting to me because of the great flavors and diversity of noodle dishes. I eat everything on the menu at least once a week."
- Zao Noodle Bar
(510) 559-6828, www.zaonoodle.com.