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Maryland entrepreneurs enter next Cava chapter with Zoes acquisition finalized

Combined Cava company will have over 300 Mediterranean-style restaurants in 24 states, 8K employees, and will be led by Brett Schulman

Cava has completed the acquisition of Zoe’s Kitchen as of November 21, according to an announcement from Cava. Zoe’s shareholders received $12.75 per share in the all-cash transaction. Panera Founder Ron Shaich had backed the deal, which was funded by his Act II Holdings investment arm, funds advised by the Invus Group, and Cava existing backers, SWaN & Legend Venture Partners and Revolution Growth. The $12.75 all-cash offer per share represented a 33-percent premium over the share price before the deal was announced August 17, 2018 and valued Zoe’s at $300M.

“Today’s announcement is an exciting milestone for Cava, and we’re thrilled to welcome Zoës Kitchen to our team,” said Brett Schulman, Cava chief executive, in a company release. “Together, these two brands are united by a shared heritage and passion for exceptional Mediterranean cuisine…. As part of the Cava family, Zoës Kitchen will benefit from Cava’s track record of bold culinary innovation and leveraging data and technology to drive growth and convenience.”

Zoe’s Kitchen will benefit from Cava’s technological leadership in the fast-casual space and the advancements Cava has been making, in addition to a growing list of digital initiatives. Cava’s tapping of omnichannel retailing because of its ever-expanding line of dips and spreads in retail, including those at Whole Food locations, may also bode well for the Zoe’s brand.

Cava has an expansive menu that features customizable bowls that appeal to a wide audience, introducing customers to inventive Mediterranean-style preparations, sauces and dips. Photo by Cava.

November 22 will be the first day of operations for the combined company. Zoe’s was a publicly-held company for four years. Kevin Miles, chief executive of Zoe’s Kitchen will be leaving the company after growing it from 21 locations and $24M in revenue to 268 restaurants grossing $340M in annual revenue.

Cava was started by three childhood friends, Ted Xenohristos, Ike Grigoropoulos and Executive Chef Dimitri Moshovitis, who grew up together in Montgomery County, Md., a suburb in Metro-Washington, D.C. The three first-generation Greek Americans founded Cava Mezze, a table-service Greek concept in Rockville, Md., and subsequently launched the fast-casual Cava concept.

Most recently, Xenohristos has been actively involved in new store openings and growing the brand, in addition to involvement in the founders’ newest French-Mediterranean concept, Julii, to be helmed by Executive Chef Sasha Felikson at the Pike & Rose development in North Bethesda, Md., opening in November after some delays.

With Zoe’s Kitchen, the combined Cava company will have about 330 restaurants and 8,000 employees in 24 states. No consolidation or layoffs have been announced. Schulman will be the CEO of the combined company.

Photo credit: Zoe’s Kitchen (featured) Cava (inline)

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