Hospitality is on the plate at fast-casual restaurant CAVA

Hospitality is in the DNA of Washington, D.C.-based CAVA, a quickly growing Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant company. Positive culture, intelligent applications of technology and a vertically integrated supply chain keeps great ingredients fresh, helping the company stay competitive in an ever-evolving industry. CEO Brett Schulman joins this episode to dish on how everyone works together like a sports team to create a dining experience that has attracted a cult-like fan base.

CAVA began with Cava Mezze, a more traditional sit-down restaurant, and began offering its popular dips and spreads — like garlic hummus and crazy feta — at local Whole Foods and other grocery stores. In 2011, the company expanded into convenient fast-casual restaurants, which has grown to 75 locations in less than a decade. Last year, Schulman led the acquisition of Zoës Kitchen, a chain with more than 250 locations, ushering in a new era for the innovative restaurant group.

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CAVA is committed to making the same high-quality food available through multiple channels, so anyone can access the healthy, no-compromise choices at their convenience. The company achieves this goal through the intelligent implementation of technology. Schulman wants tech solutions to act as a “quiet co-pilot” to enhance the human experience for both sides of the serving line. For guests, that means options like ordering through an app, drive-up pickup or getting recommendations for how to build their CAVA bowls through the app. The right tech solutions can free up team members to deliver the excellent customer service the restaurant is known for by automating tasks like calculating order quantities. A vertically integrated production and distribution chain also ensures that all of CAVA’s dips and spreads get to their destinations safely, whether that’s a CAVA location or a Whole Foods.

Listen to the episode to learn more about the culture that keeps the chain running and how Zoës Kitchen is being assimilated into CAVA’s way of doing business.

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