As people began working from home more, as well as migrating out of city centers, CAVA’s awareness and frequency picked up. “Whether they return to the office and want a place where digital pickup order and grab lunch off a shelf in one of our urban locations, or whether they want to meet their friends and family and have a meal in one of our dining rooms in the suburbs, or drive around to one of our drive-thru digital pickup windows to grab their meal,” Schulman says, “they’ve realized that there’s a number of ways they can access their favorite CAVA meal. And so that allows us to gain more frequency because we can meet them in such a multitude of ways.”
Simply, CAVA’s ability to flex to a quick-service need or a casual-dining need, has never been higher.
The brand opened another drive-thru, pickup window store in November in Castle Rock, Colorado. There’s a Bryant Park, New York, unit without any seats. Guests order down the line, but everything is packed and sent out the door. CAVA also boasts boxes with upward of 80 seats. In January 2022, a Sandy Springs, Georgia, digital pickup kitchen hit the market—a first for the brand. It’s a storefront for digital-order pickup, delivery, and catering production to support the company’s recent push into the latter.
Schulman calls this landscape a “multichannel world.” CAVA, like fast casuals, quick serves, and even sit-down brands alike these days, isn’t tied to preconceived notions of what a restaurant is supposed to look like. Brands can adjust to the needs of guests in given trade areas, whether that’s a ghost kitchen, pickup window, or a restaurant with more pickup shelves than seats.
Catering is another example of how CAVA is webbing out. The brand launched the program in November in New York City, with plans to go national throughout the next year or so.
The goal will be to support catering needs via multiple formats, including off-and on-premises ghost kitchens and in-restaurant catering operations.
Schuman says customers have requested catering “for the decade we’ve been doing this.” But existing stores don’t have the capacity to support it in addition to current in-store and digital business.
When CAVA brought Zoës into the fold, however, it gave the company an established catering arm that allowed it to explore how the channel could translate to CAVA as well. Additionally, it suddenly had ample real estate to adapt and support it, and not at the expense of its present restaurant and digital experience.
And speaking of the digital experience, CAVA doubled its base over the past two years. That’s not an uncommon turn of late, as restaurants welcomed hordes of guests into digital avenues during a time when they couldn’t dine-in, but CAVA has tried to nurture audience development more than just let it happen.