Wednesday, January 11, 2023

[ALERT] Founding Family Reopening Zoes Kitchen

If you're one of the many diners who miss Zoes Kitchen, especially the "OG" Zoes of Birmingham, we have good news for you!  Zoes Kitchen founders Zoe & Marcus along with their son John Cassimus, have reached an agreement to acquire one Zoes Kitchen in Birmingham and reopen it under the family's ownership and direction. 

Marcus & Zoe Cassimus opened the first Zoes Kitchen in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood in 1995.  In the years that followed, Zoes was led by their son John who expanded the concept regionally.  John resigned from the company in late November 2008 and the company went public in 2014, Zoes would eventually grow to 261 restaurants in 20 states.    Cava, another fast casual restaurant, acquired Zoes in 2018, and has in recent years converted the majority of Zoes locations to Cava. 

Today there are just 33 Zoes Kitchen restaurants spread across eleven states.  In Georgia, the company once had more than 20 locations, but today, after eventually converting sixteen units over the past two years (and closing two others), just five remain open.  The remaining locations - Emory, Snellville, Peachtree City, Columbus and Savannah - are all slated to close or convert in the coming months.  The company has not confirmed which locations will be converted to Cava versus closing permanently.  

After leaving Zoes, John went on to start several other restaurants including Maki Fresh, Ms. Dots and Jinsei, all of which he sold in 2018 in advance of a pivot into the retail liquidation business.  This past July, Cassimus launched "Bidding Kings," an auction service for liquidating retail merchandise and opened locations in Hoover and Opelika, Alabama. 

According to Cassimus, the Birmingham (Crestline) location she and her family are reopening will serve as the final Zoes with no plans to open additional units.  The restaurant, located at 225 Country Club Park, closed as a Zoes Kitchen under Cava ownership and is expected to reopen "soon" with the Cassimus family at the helm.  

For many years ToNeTo Atlanta has heard from readers lamenting first the loss of certain classic Zoes menu items (slaw anyone?), and later the loss of their local Zoes in total.  According to a Facebook post John Cassimus made announcing the news, the "new" Zoes will actually be anything but and will feature the "original" Zoes menu!  

The Cassimuses have launched new social handles and a website to track the progress leading up to their grand re-opening.  

How do you think Cava compares the "OG" Zoes Kitchen?  Are you pleased to see the Zoes brand continue?  Do you plan to visit Zoes Kitchen in Birmingham?

Please share your thoughts below.  

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

I always liked Zoe’s and honestly haven’t even been to those converted to Cava

Anonymous said...

Cava sucks compared to Zoe's. It's more expensive and with less options. Wish they were doing this in Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

I frequented Zoe’s at least once a week as it was very close to my work. As a vegetarian, I could find so many tasty options. Since the store closest to me converted to Cava last year, I’ve been twice and have no plans to return. The store is never busy, like it was as a Zoe’s. I would love to see Zoe’s popping up around Atlanta again.

Anonymous said...

Loved Zoes. Have given CAVA and Chopt a chance but come up empty. Gusto maybe.

Anonymous said...

CAVA blows big time. Bring Zoe’s back to Atlanta!

Anonymous said...

Cava is terrible and never should have converted the majority of Zoe’s stores. I miss being able to pick and choose my meal and the healthy options

Anonymous said...

Went to CAVA for the 1st time paid $15 for a salad with about 2oz of meat. Never went back.

scgirl said...

I have eaten at both and will take Zoe's over CAVA any day. What were those people thinking?

Anonymous said...

I loved Zoe's salmon entrees and the hummus options. The Cava locations started off well but the service and food quality has tanked. I almost broke a tooth on the undercooked rice last time I ordered, and they were out of half the toppings. The staff is surly and unhelpful.

There has to be a market for "fast casual" Mediterranean that goes beyond bowls.

Anonymous said...

They aren't really the same menu. I like Cava but definitely miss some of those classic Zoe's menu items.

Anonymous said...

Cava was unimpressive and overpriced. Only ate there once. So sad Zoe’s is going away.

Anonymous said...

I miss their rosemary white beans.

Anonymous said...

Wish it was coming back in Buckhead! Zoe’s is sooooo much better than Cava. I’ve been to Cava twice, which was two times too many.

Anonymous said...

Miss Zoe’s…. Cava not as good.

Anonymous said...

Cava is ok but I really miss Zoe’s. Also the service and management are so bad at Cava. They never seem to get my takeout order right and do not handle it well when I call to complain.

Anonymous said...

Cava terrible, can't compare. Miss Zoes which we frequented on a regular basis

Anonymous said...

I frequented Zoe’s a lot and loved them. I went to Cava’s twice and hated it both times. I miss Zoe’s so much. Please come back to Atlanta.

CloseOTP said...

Don't understand why they converted all of them. It isn't like Chipotle buying Moe's where it's the same thing. Cava and Zoe's were so different and would both be able to thrive in the same markets. Bad decision by Cava...

Anonymous said...

Zoe’s was fabulous! Salads, dressing (I miss buying it for home!), the hummus was amazing and all the meat was perfect. Please come back to Roswell, GA. Cava is mehhh at best. I love flavor but it’s over done with seasoning not
to mention I always leave kind of hungry, without the full plate of food I always received at Zoe’s!

Anonymous said...

I second this. So tasty and fresh and affordable. Cava is not near as good.

Anonymous said...

I miss Zoe’s. I went into a Cava and walked out without ordering. The menu seemed very limited.

Anonymous said...

I spent thousands of dollars per year on Zoe’s catering for work events and weekend family dinners. Zoe’s was a differentiator in the market. I have never stepped foot into the “bowl crazed” concept of Cava. Some one bring back Zoe’s to the Atlanta market.

Anonymous said...

We need Zöes back in metro Atlanta. It was a horrible idea to convert all of them to Cava when the menus do not overlap. It's rarely a good idea to completely remove a popular restaurant from the market completely.

Anonymous said...

I miss Zoes in Peachtree Battle Buckhead. I've never had any interest in Cava..never been there and plan not to go there.
Bring back the Zoes

Anonymous said...

Please bring Zoe’s back!!! I was an avid customer and cava does not do it justice

Anonymous said...

Loved them when they first opened then they kept changing their menu and the food started getting steadily bad. Then virus of unknown origins hit and they started closing. Cava doesn't appear to be too appealing.

Anonymous said...

Please bring Zoe’s back to Alpharetta!! We miss it so much!!

Anonymous said...

Agree with everybody else's sentiments. Cava is salty and tasteless. It is not even close to Zoe's. I would love to see Zoe's come back.

dal787 said...

OMG! The hummus was so tasty. I also miss the delicious rice, and the ham sandwich. Never been to CAVA.

dal787 said...

That was my favorite location!

Anonymous said...

Zoe’s was so much better than Cava! They were out of pita bread the day we went and other things.

Anonymous said...

I’m going to be in the minority here, but I think they both suck….

Anonymous said...

With food service, it is 90% about the staff….makes or breaks the establishment always!!!

Anonymous said...

Was just talking about this. Zoe’s local number was on speed dial for great healthy delicious meal options during the week. I went to Cava once and did not like it at all. Confusing. Not enough protein and nowhere near what Zoe’s was! #BringBackZoes!!

Bevin said...

Zoe's white beans were the best of the best. I miss the OG Zoe's menu -- it was clean, simple and absolutely delicious! Cava is awful.

Anon said...

So many Cava haters! I love Cava. I also liked Zoe's. Probably shouldn't have converted all of them.

RayAtL said...

I visited Zoe every so often and it was a good change of pace but nothing on the Cava menu interests me whatsoever.
Another down vote for Cava.

Anonymous said...

Bring Zoe’s back!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I miss Zoe’s in Nashville! So glad to hear about the Zoe’s coming back to Birmingham. Will make it a point to go when traveling through Alabama!

Anonymous said...

I went to Zoe’s on 119th about 1X per wk or more on 119th. I got my friend eating there as well. Nothing compared to the beef kabob & rice. She’d also order that as well. I also used to buy bottles salad dressing for home. Every time we’d see cars in the area around that location that was supposed to reopen, we’d go & find out that it hadn’t. I’d even emailed the website several times. I’d eaten in 3 locations in our area & all were always busy. When they closed in our area I’d even had my friend from Texas bring some when she came. I’m in sales & was going to be excited to bring it in to my offices for lunch & learns after Covid, but it closed before I could do that. It seemed like they didn’t have a Covid plan or something when the other fast food franchises did. The 119th location was supposed to reopen in December on New Year’s Eve l, & didn’t.
I went to Cava & was very disappointed. I didn’t like my wrap at all. I bought it home & it sat in the fridge. Just tasted like a bunch of stuff in a wrap. Nothing that really bound the flavors together. I’ve eaten other Mediterranean food & there was nothing like this. Help! Please bring it back to Kansas City, Leawood, Overland Park or the surrounding area. I’ll be there with baited breath in line with my best friend!

Anonymous said...

Cava is terrible. Our Zoe’s in Vienna, VA closed, and now we have two Cavas less than a mile apart. Please bring Zoe’s back - it was our go-to fast casual - so, so good!

Anonymous said...

Cava is absolutely horrible! Zoe’s was the best … I’m so incredibly sad 😞

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree ! I need therapy because of their closing …

Anonymous said...

Zoes needs to come back to Fort Worth, Cava doesn't even have the same menu. Please bring Zoe's back!!!!

Anonymous said...

My family loved Zoe’s and I enjoyed having a healthy option that we all liked! (Especially with kids!!) I have been To Cava twice and it’s meh. It’s not kid friendly so we never go anymore. We had two in Fort Worth and both could have done well. They should have kept Zoe’s instead of changing them all. Why mess with something’s that’s not broken?!!!!

Anonymous said...

I miss Zoe’s so much! My favorite restaurant ever. As a gluten free vegetarian, their falafel Greek salad was perfection. I’ve tried Cava but they aren’t healthy for me as they both fry instead of bake their falafel the way Zoe’s did, and put gluten into them. I really wish you guys come back to Dallas!

Anonymous said...

Cava sucks! The menu is very different and over priced. Missed the hummus, chicken salad and tomato soup. Zoe’s had a great kids menu too!

Anonymous said...

Loved Zoe’s fresh reasonable delicious food someone bring it back

Anonymous said...

Loved so many things at Zoe’s in PA bring itback

Anonymous said...

I have tired both. I really loved Zoe's when it first opened in San Antonio, TX. Over time (with more locations opened) the quality suffered...but still WAY better than what CAVA is. I liked the fact that Zoe's had kebabs, roasted veggies, and rosemary white beans. The menu was more elevated than just the bowl/wrap approach of CAVA. CAVA is totally a wannabe Chipotle of Mediterranean food --- this concept does such a disservice to the cuisine. It hard for me to understand (*smh*) who thought CAVA as a concept to take over Zoe's would pay off in the long run? Sure, there is the immediate access to brick and mortarsb But the demo and clientele that would be drawn to the OG Zoe's (in my opinion) are highly unlikely to eat at CAVA more than once or twice ... because ... just ... no.

Anonymous said...

I don’t care for Cava at all. Everyone in Tyler, Tx. loved Zoe’s Kitchen and this was a sad takeover.

Anonymous said...

I miss Zoe’s in Greensboro NC . Hope the family and CAVA see the light.

Anonymous said...

I miss Zoe’s in Maryland that was my favorite restaurant I ate Cava one time and did not like it at all!! Please bring Zoe’s back to MD.

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