Cava's "It Factor"? See how this restaurant reads its customers' minds

Cava Emerging Brands

To learn more about the 2017 Emerging Brands, download the full report here:


An Emerging Brands 2017 profile:

Cava had us at ratings. And reviews. And growing traffic over time. But when we looked even deeper and learned about their innovative approach to operations management via sensor technology, they became one of our stand-outs of 2017. The concept is a great one – find out more about your customers’ experience inside your store, and then smooth out any frustrations that are discovered in that process. Sounds simple, right? Emerging technologies make the automated collection of data more efficient than it has ever been. Combine this with advanced data science to interpret and utilize the results, and the possibilities are endless.

While we can’t exactly read customers’ minds (we’ll talk about predictive behavior another day…), we CAN read their body language – or at least track and layer information to interpret movements. Cava uses two forms of strategically placed sensors – one that acts like a camera and the other that detects motion to collect data that helps them reduce wait times, keep noise levels at appropriate levels, and even inform kitchen staff about appropriate food temperatures. The data collected from these sensors have totally reconfigured the chain’s dining rooms.

According to a NRN interview with Josh Patchus, Chief Data Scientist, the sensors help Cava understand their customers. ‘Our ROI really isn’t today; our ROI is years from now.’

While many restaurants are just beginning to collect and proactively use common data – Cava has raised that bar significantly – not only are they putting structures in place to harvest a significant amount of valuable primary data, they’re putting that data to work. Ever wonder why the wait for your bowl is never too long? They know when to add an employee to get an extra 20 or 30 people through the queue.

Cava ‘gets’ the value of harnessing and utilizing consumer behavioral data to make operational decisions. This smart approach to technology, combined with the commitment to customer satisfaction, creates a valuable layer on top of high social media ratings and enthusiastic reviews and is what ultimately pushed Cava to the top of our list.

Washington, DC-based, Cava Grill is the Fast Casual counterpart to polished casual, Cave Mezze. Traditional Greek fare in a modern setting, the Cava brands were founded by childhood friends Ike Grigoropoulos, Chef Dimitri Moshovitis, and Ted Xenohristos.

This blog was written by Fishbowl’s Katharine Dalton, Analyst, Primary Data.