CAVA, a Mediterranean build-your-own-meal restaurant concept, opened March 12 at 205 S. Stratford Road in Towers Shopping Center in the space formerly occupied by Zoe’s Kitchen.
Zoe’s, which also served Mediterranean-style casual fare, closed in January. Zoe’s is a national chain that had been on Stratford Road since 2014.
In 2018, Cava Group bought the Zoe’s chain in a deal worth $300 million. The two chains have more than 300 restaurants combined across the country.
The company has since converted some of the Zoe’s Kitchens into CAVA restaurants. Rick DaCosta, area leader for this region, said that the company plans to convert about 50 Zoe’s into CAVA restaurants this year, though it does not plan to eliminate the Zoe’s brand at this time.
In North Carolina, the company is getting ready to convert a Zoe’s in Fayetteville into a CAVA. And it just recently did the same thing to a Zoe’s in Raleigh.
The restaurant is set up as a quick-serve restaurant in which an assembly-line team can assemble your order in as little time as one minute, DaCosta said.
Winston-Salem diners may liken CAVA’s concept to the locally owned Yamas Mediterranean restaurant downtown.
The Winston-Salem CAVA has about 86 seats total, about 50 indoors and 30 on the patio — or about 40 with COVID-19 restrictions. It also offers ordering on its website and through a mobile app for contactless takeout and curbside pickup.
The menu offers four “chef-curated” bowls, though many customers choose the build-your-own options.
The curated bowls include a lentil avocado bowl ($11.95/560 calories), chicken+RightRice ($10.47/690 calories), harissa avocado ($12.95/810 calories) and Greek salad ($9.97/ 540 calories). (RightRice is a protein-rich blend of lentils, chickpeas, green peas and some rice.)
These bowls all include hummus, cucumber and other vegetables.
“We can cater to a lot of diets from vegan to keto — you name it,” DaCosta said. “And we have a lot of gluten-free options.”
For customers who want to build their own, they first choose a base, which can be pita, salad, grains or a combination of grains and greens. Typical bases are $8.95 to $9.97, but there are smaller bases (for $4.55 to $5.95) as well as a family size that serves up to six people ($45).
Customers can then add various dips and spreads, protein, toppings and dressings. Most of these are included in the base prices.
Dips and spreads include harissa, hummus, feta, tzatziki and roasted eggplant dip. Proteins include falafel, grilled chicken, braised lamb and grilled meatballs.
Toppings include feta, olives, lentil tabbouleh, avocado and cucumber. Dressings include garlic, lemon herb tahini and yogurt dill.
CAVA offers just a few other items, including pita chips, cookies and brownies. Drinks include tea and cucumber-mint and strawberry-citrus juices.