Wednesday, June 9, 2021

[UPDATE] The "Ins" and "Outs" of Cava's Fourteen Zoës Conversions in Atlanta

Mediterranean fast casual eatery Cava is slated to enter the Atlanta market later this this month.  The first outpost, Tuxedo Festival (3655 Roswell Road) in north Buckhead, like the rest of the locations the company is planning for Atlanta, replaced an existing Zoës Kitchen.  In total, the company plans to convert fourteen Atlanta area Zoës Kitchen restaurants to the Cava brand.   

Rockville, Maryland-based Cava, backed by Panera founder Ron Shaich, purchased then publicly traded Zoës in 2018.  In recent years, especially during the pandemic, Cava has grown by converting existing Zoës units, a practice it has said is easier, faster and less expensive than it would be to enter new markets on its own. 

ToNeTo Atlanta first reported on Cava's planned conversion at Tuxedo Festival February 4.  On April 22, we shared that the company also planned to convert the existing Zoës restaurants in Peachtree Battle and Athens to the Cava brand.  

Representatives for Cava say the fourteen Zoës restaurants the company is converting in Georgia are all slated to be open by October.  The Dunwoody location - 1165 Perimeter Center West - in the same center as REI and Goodwill, seems to be the next one slated for conversion as it recently closed as a  Zoës Kitchen.  Each conversion is expected to take about eight weeks.  

In a puzzling move, Zoës reopened its restaurant in The Plaza at City Springs (5840 Roswell Road) which had been closed and cleared out for more than ten months.  The restaurant quietly reopened about a week ago and according to store employees, features a reduced menu.  

Cava conversion progress at Tuxedo Festival

Cava, which ended 2020 with 105 units, currently has 119 open with plans for 2021 to include more than 50 Zoës conversions nationally, according to published reports.  A late April Series F investment of $190 million reportedly values the company at nearly $1.3 billion.  Sweetgreen, which earlier this week opened the first of three planned Atlanta area locations, is valued at nearly $1.8 billion after its most recent $156 million investment and reportedly plans to go public this year.  

Chipotle Mexican Grill, the gold standard for fast casual restaurant concepts, went public in 2006 at $22 per share.  Over the past year Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) is up nearly 29 percent, trades at more than $1,300 per share and has a market cap of nearly $38 billion.  

Insiders tell ToNeTo Atlanta that Cava's reasoning for deemphasizing the Zoës brand is primarily driven by the concept's decelerating AUV (average unit volumes) and the thought that Cava has become the "stronger" brand.  

Interestingly, according to a Cava spokesperson, there is no current or planned reciprocity between the two concepts when it comes to gift card usage.   

The fourteen Zoës sites pegged for Cava conversions are:

Alpharetta - 10920 Haynes Bridge Road Suite 100 [Outparcel]

Athens - 145 Alps Road [Freestanding]

Buford - 3385 Woodward Crossing Boulevard Suite 300 [Mall of Georgia Crossing]

Chamblee - 5001 Peachtree Boulevard Building 1000, Suite 1030 [Peachtree Station]

Cumberland -  2935 Cobb Parkway SE SW [Outparcel/Akers Mill Square]

Cumming - 410 Peachtree Parkway #260 [The Collection at Forsyth] 

Decatur - 2501 Blackmon Drive #610 [Decatur Crossing]

Dunwoody - 1165 Perimeter Center W Suite 340 [Perimeter Square West] 

Druid Hills -  2480 Briarcliff Road NE #48 [Brighten Park]

Kennesaw - 1555 Crater Lake Drive [Kennesaw Marketplace]

North Buckhead - 3655 Roswell Road #100 [Tuxedo Festival]

Peachtree Corners -  5150 Peachtree Parkway Suite 100 [Peachtree Corners Town Center]

Peachtree Battle -  2333-A Peachtree Rd NE [Peachtree Battle]

Roswell - 1105 Woodstock Rd Suite 100 [Roswell Corners]

After the initial fourteen conversions are completed, Zoës will operate just ten locations in Georgia, with just one inside the perimeter (ITP).  The remaining ten locations are: Augusta, Columbus, Duluth, Emory Village, Macon, Peachtree City, Sandy Springs, Savannah, Snellville and Woodstock.

ToNeTo Atlanta has spoken to several real estate, restaurant, and other industry observers who all share our opinion that Cava's ultimate plan is seemingly to phase out the Zoës brand in favor of Cava.  The remaining ten Zoës, like others not targeted for conversion elsewhere, will likely remain open until their existing leases run out at which point they will likely close.  

Have you ever been to a Cava?  Are you excited about Cava's upcoming Atlanta debut?  What is your favorite local fast causal Mediterranean eatery? 

Please share your thoughts below.  


Pessa Seay said...

So excited! Cava is excellent!

Anonymous said...

Would love to understand the menu. In the 5-6 articles I've seen about Cava, there's been zero mention of the food. I'm not really wanting to "see" for myself. I want to know. They should probably tell the customers what to expect.

Anon said...

Very excited about Cava coming. I will probably visit the Tuxedo Festival location until Brighton Park has converted.

Anonymous said...

Gotsta hire da rite employees mayghn…Zoe’s did not in many locations.

Anonymous said...

SO EXCITED. There are a few places that are similar to Cava, but just don't hit the marks. I go to DC for work often where Cava is from and when I go up there, I get it as much as possible because it's not here. Pretty excited for this!

Anonymous said...

They sell the Cava brand hummus at Lidl if you would like a preview of their food.

Anonymous said...

I hope Anon 6/9@4:47 PM is ok. Looks like they may have a medical issue causing them to type words like that. That must be the only explanation. Because if it’s what it really appears to be, racist mocking, then I’m sure Eli would have caught it and kept it from being posted.

Anonymous said...

What you clearly did was very nasty and racist, and you couldn't stand behind your comment like an adult. Why don't you work there, since you seem to be so polished?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it was tasty and realist…

Anonymous said...

Anon June 9@4:47 comment was racist. Already called it out but Eli won’t publish the comment calling it out. And probably won’t publish this one either. Shame.

Anonymous said...

Eh, I'm as liberal as anyone, but that comment was probably not racist. That is common late boomer/Gen X goofy phrasing, coming from Cheech and Chong. All the kids said "mang" like that because Cheech did.

Jewel said...

Received an email yesterday that the Blackmon Drive Zoes location will close on the 4th of August. Is it still being converted to CAVA?

Anonymous said...

Think of it as a Mediterranean chipotle bowl.

Unknown said...

The Woodstock Zoe's is a now a Cava and opened within the last week or so. Ate there last night with my wife and it was not good. Grains were undercooked (crunchy brown rice and black lentils) and they put the spreads on the bottom, so they melted into the rest of the ingredients. It's too bad because proper cooking and assembly would've made different first impression.

Anonymous said...

The Zoe's on Peachtree industrial in Duluth had a Cava sign on it when I passed a few weeks ago. It was also listed as Cava on Google with no contact information or operating hours but it seems like the listing has disappeared from Google. I'm wondering what's going on with the location. It's right next door to a Chipotle.

Anonymous said...

Sooo excited for Cava on scenic highway! We drive all the way to mall of Ga or Perimeter to get to one. So healthy and delicious!

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