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cava-ceo-on-zoeys-acquisition.jpg Emily Dorio
Cava said in announcing the new round of investment that it will “double down” on expanding its concept in suburban communities.

Cava Group secures $190M funding for expansion

Latest round seen fueling Zoe’s Kitchen conversions, Cava expansion and packaged goods growth

Cava Group this week said it has received $190 million in a Series F funding round, which the company plans to use to finance the ongoing conversion of Zoe’s Kitchen locations to Cava and to expand Cava into new markets, among other uses.

As previously reported, Cava has been converting Zoe’s, which the fast-casual Mediterranean operator acquired in 2018, to the Cava brand in suburban communities.

“With this round of fundraising, we continue on our mission of serving a brighter future for our guests, our communities and our team members,” Brett Schulman, CEO and co-founder of Cava, said in a statement. “The new infusion of capital will enable expansion of Cava’s footprint through our proven conversion strategy and accelerate investments in technology that enable greater access, drive meaningful scale in digital and off premises sales, and create an ecosystem of 1:1 engagement with our guests.”

Cava said in announcing the new round of investment that it will “double down” on expanding its concept in suburban communities. It said it plans to convert more than 50 Zoe’s Kitchen restaurants to the Cava format in 2021 and enter several new markets, including 14 new locations in Atlanta. The company previously had said it planned to convert 21 locations in the first half of the year.

The funding will also fuel the expansion of the company’s consumer packaged goods (CPG) business, which Cava sees as a key growth opportunity, Schulman said.

The company also said it planned to use the funds to invest in its vertically integrated production model for its packaged dips and spreads, which are offered nationally in Whole Foods stores. This will allow for “uncapped expansion and tandem growth of both the CPG line and the restaurant business,” Cava said in a statement.

Cava also said it plans to continue investing in “next-gen” digital technologies, which have helped it expand its access to consumers during the past year. It expanded digital ordering to include curbside pickup and delivery, for example, and revamped its mobile app with a new visual presentation that reflects the “walk-the-line” ordering experience of that customers have inside the restaurants.

Cava seeks to “re-humanize the restaurant experience” through technological innovation, the company said.

“The brand’s in-house engineering capabilities and team agility have allowed it to accelerate launching new access channels to accommodate guests' changing needs, and it plans to continue investing in next gen technologies, laying the foundation for further channel diversification in the future,” Cava said.

The new investment, which Bloomberg reported values the company at nearly $1.3 billion, was led by T. Rowe Price Group and included participation from The Invus Group, Declaration Partners, Equilibra Partners Management, SWaN & Legend Venture Partners, Mousse Partners, Revolution Growth and Lighthouse Investment Partners.

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