Cava Grill, a Mediterranean fast-casual concept that first launched in DC seven years ago, will expand its presence in New York this summer. Joining existing locations in Flatiron, Nolita, and Union Square, two new Cava Grills will open in Midtown — one in Bryant Park and one nearby on Broadway — in summer 2018, marking five NYC locations in the span of just two years.
Cava Grill, a fast-casual spinoff of the full-service Cava Mezze in Washington, D.C., offers customizable salads, grain bowls, and pitas with Mediterranean flavors. CEO Brett Schulman tells Eater NY that each Cava Grill location is designed with the particular neighborhood in mind, so while the menu doesn’t vary from place to place, the space is made to accommodate each neighborhood’s dining scene.
The Union Square location, for example, draws a larger dinner crowd and has the seating options to fit that customer profile. On the other hand, the Bryant Park location will have no seating because of what Schulman describes as the neighborhood’s “heavy lunchtime population,” focusing more on an “on-the-go” format. Instead, the space will have two lines to service both in-store ordering and orders placed via Cava’s app and website. The Broadway location will offer minimal seating.
Cava Grill was born from a full-service Mediterranean restaurant called Cava Mezze started in DC in 2006 by childhood friends Dimitri Moshovitis, Ike Grigoropoulos, and Ted Xenohristos, since growing to five locations in the DC metro area. Cava Grill emerged as the brand’s fast-casual concept and sparked Cava’s national expansion into Richmond, New York City and the tri-state area, Boston, and Los Angeles. There are plans to open in Austin and Charlotte, too.
Moshovitis still serves as executive chef for the rapidly growing chain which offers a customizable meal menu: Customers choose a base (pita, salad, grain bowl, or a mini pita with soup); up to three dips and spreads including hummus, tzatziki, and harissa; a protein like falafel, grilled chicken, spicy lamb meatballs, or braised beef; and toppings and dressings. In addition to the fast-casual grills and full-service restaurants, the Cava brand also has a line of dips and spread that are sold in Whole Foods throughout the country, including some in NYC.
Fast-casual pita joints are growing in number in NYC: The new Tel Aviv import Miznon has proven hot, in addition to the well-received Dizengoff in Chelsea Market, and long-favorite Taim.
The new Cava Grill locations will open this summer at 11 West 42nd St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues, and at 1385 Broadway, near 38th Street.