Wednesday, February 23, 2022

[EXCLUSIVE] First of its Kind "Cava Digital Kitchen" to Debut in Sandy Springs

A former Zoës Kitchen in Sandy Springs will not be opening as a Cava after all.  Located at The Plaza at City Springs in Sandy Springs [5840 Roswell Road], just outside I-285, the restaurant closed this past December and was thought to be reopening as a Cava following the company's recent conversion model.  Instead, however, the restaurant will reopen as a first of its kind "Cava Digital Kitchen," geared towards ordering via the Cava app and catering.  

Cava, which at the start of the pandemic in early 2020 had zero presence in Atlanta, enters the spring with fourteen locations open in the area highlighted by the late January debut in Peachtree Battle where the opening was slated for 2021 but was plagued by permitting delays.    

The Zoës in Sandy Springs had closed last year along with several other locations, some that later converted to Cava and others that became other things.  Interestingly, last June, after being closed for several months, the Sandy Springs location reopened as a Zoës  Kitchen.  According to employees at the restaurant, the large number of Zoës closures combined with continued catering interest made remaining locations especially popular for catering needs.  In our visits to the Sandy Springs restaurant in advance of their closure, we witnessed dozens of catering bags being prepped with a source telling us that the Sandy Springs location regularly had $20,000 catering days.    

Seeing the success Zoës had in catering and wishing to both tap into it and retain customers where they could, the new Cava Digital Kitchen will reportedly feature select Zoës Kitchen favorites such as grilled salmon as well as steak and chicken kabobs.  That said, frequent catering customers were often rewarded with Zoës Kitchen gift cards in appreciation of their business, but Cava does not and has no immediate plans to accept them as payment, according to multiple Cava employees. 

The new Sandy Springs restaurant will have a dozen or so interior seats around the perimeter of the restaurant and a few tables outside on the patio but is very much geared towards off-premise dining.  There will be no menu boards and or in restaurant "assembly line" type ordering as ordering must done in advance, through the Cava app or if a large catering order, is called in. 

The Digital Kitchen, which is very much a test for Cava, will open Sunday, February 28 and is likely to be the first of ten to twelve the company opens in the next year or so.  In The Plaza at City Springs, Cava joins Buffalo Wild Wings GO, a smaller format Buffalo Wild Wings that made its nationwide debut in the center in May of 2020.  The concept is similar to Cava in that it's geared towards app, delivery and take-out orders, but it does offer menu boards for on-premise ordering and even has some tables and TVs for guests to enjoy while they wait for their food.  

In Atlanta, where the company has nine Zoës still in operation, sources say the Woodstock location on Towne Lake Parkway in Towne Lake Center is being looked at for the next Digital Kitchen as it, like Sandy Springs, was an especially high performing catering location.  The other Atlanta area Zoës, including those in Snellville, Duluth, Peachtree City, and on Oxford Road near Emory University, are expected to become traditional Cava restaurants later this year.  

Cava Group, the parent company of Cava, purchased Zoës in 2018 for about $300 million.  At the time of the purchase, Zoës operated 261 locations compared to Cava's 66.

Cava currently operates 167 locations with about a half dozen or so coming soon, while Zoës has been reduced to just 115 locations with dozens of additional conversions planned for this year.  

Are you pleased by the expansion of Cava in metro Atlanta?  Do you think the owners of Cava should have continued to operate both Zoës and Cava rather than phasing out the Zoës concept?  Does the idea of a "Digital Kitchen" excite you?

Please share your thoughts below. 


Anonymous said...

"I'd like the digital sampler, with extra bits and easy on the bytes. And please download extra sauce with my order"

Anonymous said...

Cava is really just inferior to Zoe's in every way.

Anonymous said...

Cava is really just inferior to Zoe's in every way.

Anonymous said...

I’m no expert..; but it seems as if the Zoe’s customers likes what they like… Bring on Zoe’s slaw!!!!

RayAtL said...

I find the Cava menu to be inferior to that of Zoe, it’s just different enough to keep me from being a customer.

Jodyml813 said...

Agree! I tried Cava once and it was incredibly salty and almost inedible. I must prefer Zoe's. Just sad to see that they're pretty much gone in the area.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Cava. Love and crave it. But I build my own bowls from their fabulous ingredients. Perhaps try a different mix ofvthings if you didnt get it right the first time?

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