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Restaurant chain Cava files for IPO; sees potential for 1,000-plus locations

Cava is planning to go public.
Cava is planning to go public.

Cava Group Inc. has gone public with its plans for an initial public offering.

The fast-casual, Mediterranean restaurant company officially filed registration statements for an initial public offering after a confidential filing in February. The company, which plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CAVA, did not indicate how much money it hopes to raise with the IPO or how many shares it intends to sell.

As of April 16, 2023, Cava had 263 restaurants across 22 states and Washington, D.C., with more than 80% of its restaurants in suburban locations and the remainder in high-traffic city center and specialty. In its regulatory filings, the company said it’s in the early stages “of fulfilling our total restaurant potential,” and anticipates 34 to 44 net new Cava restaurant openings during the remainder of fiscal 2023.

“Based on our internal analysis and third-party research, we believe there is potential to have more than 1,000 Cava restaurants in the United States by 2032,” the company stated.  “We currently have a strong new restaurant pipeline with 100 new sites for which we have signed letters of intent as of April 16, 2023, which is well in excess of our planned new restaurant openings in 2023 and 2024.”

The new openings are expected to be in existing markets as well as new ones, including the Midwest, which the company intends to enter in 2024.

In 2016, Cava acquired Zoes Kitchen Inc. To date, it has converted 145 Zoe’s locations into Cava restaurants, the filings noted. Eight additional  Zoes Kitchen conversions are expected this year, which will end the program. 

Cava said its revenues totaled $564 million in fiscal 2022, up from $500 million the prior year. At the same time, however, its losses widened from $37.4 million in 2021 to $59 million in 2022.

"Over the past 12 years, we have established ourselves as the only national player at scale in the fast-growing Mediterranean category, with more than twice the number of restaurants compared to our next largest competitor in the category," the chain said in a filing. "Our brand and our opportunity transcend the Mediterranean category to compete in the large and growing limited-service restaurant sector as well as the health and wellness food category."

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