A logo outside a Cava restaurant location in Chantilly, Virginia.
Christopher Tripplar | Sipa USA | AP
Mediterranean chain Cava announced Monday that it has confidentially filed for an initial public offering.
It is the first restaurant company so far this year to take its first steps toward a public market debut in 2022 after an IPO drought.
Cava Group was founded in 2006 and opened its first fast-casual location in 2011, after popularizing its formula to create its own Mediterranean cuisine. Chipotle Mexican Grill, In 2018, it bought Zoes Kitchen for $300 million, taking the chain private. The company converted Zoe’s locations into new Cava restaurants, rapidly expanding its footprint.
Cava also sells its dips and spreads, such as spicy hummus, tzatziki, and tahini dressing, at Whole Foods and other grocery stores.
In April 2021, the company raised $230 million at a valuation of $1.71 billion, according to Pitchbook data.
Kava said on Monday that the offering is subject to market conditions and other factors. Last year, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation and recession fears caused several companies to cancel their plans to go public. Among those companies was Panera Bread, founded by Cava chairman and investor Ron Shacht.
Investors have had mixed reactions to fast-casual restaurant chains over the past year. Chipotle’s stock soared 13% as price hikes boosted sales, but the salad chain sweet green Its shares have lost more than half their value on concerns about its path to profitability.
Kava CEO Brett Schulman told CNBC in 2019 that the company was profitable at the time, which could make the offering more attractive to potential shareholders.