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CAVA Still Going Strong

by 
Shira Petrack
 on 
May 21, 2024
CAVA Still Going Strong

We looked at nationwide and regional visitation patterns for CAVA to understand how the fast-growing fast-casual chain is performing across its major markets. 

Key Takeaways 

  • CAVA’s expansion continues to drive visit growth, with Q1 2024 nationwide visits to the chain up 23.6% year-over-year (YoY).
  • The median household income (HHI) in CAVA’s nationwide and statewide trade areas tends to be higher than the respective nationwide or statewide median HHI. 
  • The preferred visitation times for CAVA diners vary by state. 

CAVA’s Expansion Driving Visit Growth

CAVA – which operated a little over 300 locations by the end of 2023 – is growing rapidly, with plans to reach 1,000 locations by 2032. The chain has seen consistent year-over-year (YoY) visit growth in most of its major markets, with a 23.6% YoY overall increase in nationwide visits in Q1 2024 – in large part due to its ongoing expansion. 

CAVA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and currently, most of its venues are located in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States. But the chain also has a strong presence in Texas and California and operates restaurants in a handful of additional states. Recently, CAVA entered the Midwest with its first Chicago location – and has plans to extend its reach even further. So what do CAVA’s various markets have in common – and what sets them apart? 

CAVA Attracts Affluent Diners Across Its Major Markets 

Nationwide, the median household income (HHI) in CAVA’s captured market trade area is higher than the US median HHI – and diving into the regional markets indicates that this trend persists across regional markets. 

In most states with a major CAVA presence – including Texas, Virginia, California, North Carolina, Georgia, and Maryland – the median HHI in CAVA’s trade area is 11% to 24% higher than the statewide median. Even in Florida, where the chain’s trade area HHI is closest to the statewide median, households in CAVA’s captured market are still slightly more affluent than in Florida as a whole.

Differences in Dining Habits 

But while the chain seems to attract a similar demographic across states, diving into the hourly visitation patterns in CAVA’s various markets indicates that dining habits differ between regions. 

In Texas, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina, the share of 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM CAVA visits taking place during the lunchtime daypart (11:00 AM - 2:00 PM) ranges from 35.5% to 36.9% – at or above the nationwide average of 35.4%. But in Virginia and Maryland, and especially California, the lunchtime rush is more subdued. In these states, the afternoon and evening dayparts tend to be busier than in the other analyzed states – with California in particular seeing 35.7% of visits taking place between 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM.

CAVA’s Path to Nationwide Ubiquity 

Identifying similarities and differences between the visitor bases in CAVA’s various markets can help the company identify ideal locations, optimize staffing needs, and tailor promotional efforts as it continues to enter new markets and open additional restaurants in existing ones. 

For more data-driven dining insights, visit placer.ai/blog

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