Lamb bowls, warm pita, and red pepper hummus could all be coming to a location near you. Cava, the fast-casual chain specializing in Mediterranean food with a healthful slant, has announced major expansion plans for this year, as its parent company secures a $190 million investment in a series F funding round.
According to Restaurant Business, Cava will be adding at least 64 locations to its existing footprint of 105 restaurants during the course of the year. Fifty or more of those restaurants will be converted locations of Zoes Kitchen, the chain's sister brand acquired in 2018, while another 14 locations are already slated for opening in the Atlanta area. The company is focusing its expansion on suburban areas and has announced that the ultimate growth goal is to operate a whopping 500-plus outlets by 2025.
The rapid expansion will in part be made possible by the conversion strategy. According to Bloomberg, CEO Brett Schulman said that turning Zoes Kitchen restaurants into Cava locations will require "Half the cost, half the time," and "allows us to achieve instant, market-wide entry in a matter of months instead of years."
Cava Group Inc., which is currently valued at $1.3 billion, is also planning on using some of the investment money for developing "next-gen technologies, laying the foundation for further channel diversification in the future," it said in a statement. In fact, Shulman credits the chain's online presence for a successful transition from urban lunchtime orders to the suburban dinner space during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cava's products can also be found on grocery store shelves. The chain's branded dips and spreads are sold at several retailers, including Whole Foods and Giant. For more on growing restaurant brands, check out World's Largest BBQ Franchise Is Expanding In a Dozen States This Year, and don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.