Bethesda’s Cava buying Zoe’s Kitchen for $300 million

WASHINGTON — Fast-growing Bethesda-based restaurant chain Cava Group is about to grow exponentially with an agreement to acquire Plano, Texas-based Mediterranean restaurant chain Zoe’s Kitchen.

Cava has grown to 66 locations and Zoe’s Kitchen has 261. The combined companies will have 327 restaurants in 24 states.

Under terms of the acquisition, Cava Group will spend $300 million to pay $12.75 per share in cash for Zoe’s. It was a 33 percent premium to publicly-traded Zoe’s Thursday closing price. The news sent its stock (NYSE: ZOES) up by that much in Friday trading.

Cava is paying for the acquisition with investment from Act III Holdings, an investment vehicle created by Ron Shaich, the founder and chairman of Panera Bread.

“Together, these two brands are united by a shared heritage and passion for exceptional Mediterranean cuisine,”  said Cava chief executive Brett Schulman. “Now with the addition of Zoe’s Kitchen, we will be able to broaden our geographic footprint and meet the needs of even more guests — whether in Bethesda or Birmingham, Plano or Pasadena.”

The company’s restaurants include Cava and the more formal Cava Mezze. The company was founded by Maryland natives Ted Xenohristos, Ike Grigoropoulos and Dimitri Moshovitis in 2006.

Cava Mezze also runs Sugo Osteria in Potomac and Brusco Luncheonette in Baltimore.

Dips and spreads from Cava can be found in more than 200 Whole Foods stores.

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