Thursday, June 17, 2021

[OPENING ALERT] Cava to Make Atlanta Debut June 25 in Chastain Park

Mediterranean fast casual eatery Cava will open the first of fourteen planned Atlanta area locations June 25 in Chastain Park.  The restaurant, located in Tuxedo Festival (3655 Roswell Road) in what it is officially referring to as its "North Buckhead" outpost, like the rest of the locations the company is planning for Atlanta, replaces an existing Zoës Kitchen. 

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.  Earlier this month we revealed the complete list of the planned Atlanta area conversions.  According to the Cava website, we were correct in our assertion then that the former Dunwoody Zoës - 1165 Perimeter Center West - will be the next conversion, and based on current timelines should open by early August.  

In Chastain Park, Cava will face a formidable challenger in Sahara Mediterranean Grill.  Sahara, like Cava, an offshoot of a successful full service restaurant, opened last June in the midst of the pandemic and has carved out a cult-like following among local residents for their small batch dips, spreads and fresh proteins.  

In Dunwoody, Cava enters a market already penetrated by a competing Mediterranean chain. A franchised location of New York-based The Hummus & Pita Co. opened this past November at Ashford Lane (fka Perimeter Place) in a 2,800 square foot space originally home to Boneheads, a quick-serve seafood restaurant.  

Unlike Zoës where customers ordered at a counter and had their food delivered to their table, customers build their meals at Cava as they would at Chipotle and Willy's, and by the time they are paying, they have their food.  

For those unfamiliar, the menu at Cava is built on a five step process: Base (salad, grain bowl, pita, etc.), Dips+Spreads (tzatziki, harissa, hummus, etc.), Protein (lamb, falafel, chicken, etc.), Toppings (pickled onions, crumbled feta, fire-roasted corn, etc.) & Dressings (lemon herb tahini, yogurt dill, garlic, etc.)  

Representatives for Cava say the fourteen Zoës restaurants the company is converting in Georgia are (somehow) all slated to open by October.  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. 

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 twelve other Zoës sites pegged for Cava conversions are:  

Alpharetta - 10920 Haynes Bridge Road Suite 100 

Athens - 145 Alps Road  

Buford - 3385 Woodward Crossing Boulevard Suite 300

Chamblee - 5001 Peachtree Boulevard, Suite 1030

Cumberland -  2935 Cobb Parkway SE

Cumming - 410 Peachtree Parkway Suite #260 

Decatur - 2501 Blackmon Drive Suite #610 

Druid Hills - 2480 Briarcliff Road, NE Suite #48  

Kennesaw - 1555 Crater Lake Drive   

Peachtree Corners -  5150 Peachtree Parkway Suite 100 

Peachtree Battle -  2333-A Peachtree Road NE

Roswell - 1105 Woodstock Road Suite 100

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.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tried Cava after hearing all the hype and was really disappointed. It was just a giant bowl of stuff that didn't go together, and that was trying one of their pre-made items on the menu, not a custom order. I don't want to have to build a bowl, I want to choose from a variety of things that taste good. Everything on the Cava menu just tastes the same. I was a frequent customer of Zoe's because of the variety of items but don't plan to visit Cava again anytime soon. There are 500 other restaurants in Atlanta selling "bowls" and we don't need another one.

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