Cava files for initial public offering in volatile trading environment

Vincent Perretti 

Cava Group filed an initial public offering, making it the first restaurant company to take steps into publicly traded markets this year.

The Feb. 6 filing comes as the fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant looks to expand its foothold within an industry that is recovering from economic instability since the 2021 fiscal year.

Customers at Cava can choose from various Mediterranean ingredients and create their Mediterranean-style salads and pitas. The restaurant’s fast-casual style of service is akin to that of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. 

Although Cava was founded in 2006, the first of its present-day fast-casual locations opened in 2011, according to reporting from CNBC.

Cava acquired Zoës Kitchen, a Mediterranean-style restaurant chain with more than 250 locations in 2018. As a result of the purchase, the previously publicly traded chain became a private business. By engulfing Zoës Kitchen under its brand, Cava took the opportunity to expand its footprint by converting their locations into Cava restaurants.

Cava’s move toward public trading comes following two years of volatile performances in the IPO market.

Companies may file for an IPO to allow the members of the public to invest in them. Companies may go public when they believe that there is high demand for a stake in their business. Thus, it raises more capital, which is an essential element of a company’s growth.

2021 was considered the best year for the market due to a record number of IPOs, whereas 2022 was considered the worst due to the lack of IPOs, according to data published by Stock Analysis.

The combination of record inflation rates and rising interest rates was unfavorable for many companies, discouraging them from going public. 

While going public remains risky for Cava, it has caught the eyes of investors who are considering it an emerging giant in the industry due to its performance over the years.

“Cava has seen healthy profits in recent years, reaching $168 million in same-store-sales in 2021, representing 37% year-on-year revenue growth,”  24/7 Wall St reported. “It has over 300 branches and is continuing to increase its total store tally.”

While the restaurant company is early in the IPO process, investors are eager to hear about the number of shares and the price per share. However, it is up for speculation on how high these numbers will be. 

“The total number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined,” Cava said in a press release. “The offering is subject to market and other conditions and the completion of the SEC’s review process.”

Cava would be the first restaurant business to go public this year as other notable companies, such as Krispy Kreme Inc. and Sweetgreen Inc., already went public in 2021.

According to The Street, other IPOs that are rumored to take place this year include Brazilian steakhouse chain Fogo de Chão, Texas-based restaurant Torchy’s Tacos and California Pizza Kitchen.

“The one thing IPOs need is a stable environment,” Damon Chandik, who co-heads the restaurant industry branch at investment company Piper Sandler, told Restaurant Business Magazine. “We’re clearly starting to see that environment turn more favorable, we’re currently seeing this volatility go down.”