PLANO, TEXAS — Cava Group, Inc., a Mediterranean restaurant operator, has agreed to acquire fast-casual restaurant group Zoe’s Kitchen, Inc. in a transaction valued at approximately $300 million. The combined companies will have 327 restaurants in 24 states.
Zoe’s Kitchen shareholders will receive $12.75 in cash for each share of common stock. The amount represents a premium of approximately 33% to the company’s closing share price and 30-day volume weighted average price on Aug. 16.
Following the close of the transaction, Brett Schulman, chief executive officer of Cava, will lead the combined company. Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and former c.e.o. of Panera Bread, will serve as chairman. The acquisition of Zoe’s Kitchen will be financed through a significant equity investment in Cava led by Mr. Shaich’s investment fund, Act III Holdings.
“As a close observer of the fast-casual restaurant industry, I am thrilled at the prospect of what Cava and Zoe’s Kitchen can accomplish together,” Mr. Shaich said. “Together these businesses will create the leading company in one of the most important categories in fast casual today — Mediterranean — with the capabilities to drive extraordinary customer satisfaction and powerful growth.”
The merger is subject to certain closing conditions, including shareholder approval. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
Founded in 1995, Zoe’s Kitchen features a menu of wholesome Mediterranean-inspired dishes. The company has 261 restaurants in 20 states.
“I am proud of the significant work the team has executed over recent years to grow the Zoe’s Kitchen footprint, build brand affinity and secure a leadership position in the Mediterranean and better-for-you category,” said Kevin Miles, c.e.o. of Zoe’s Kitchen. “These efforts made it an attractive candidate for a transaction of this kind. I’d like to thank each and every team member who will continue to make Zoe’s a differentiated dining experience every day.”
Cava operates more than 60 restaurants in 10 states and sells packaged dips and spreads in Whole Foods Market and other specialty grocery stores around the country. The brand was founded by three Greek-American childhood friends who partnered with Mr. Schulman to grow the business.
“Today’s announcement is an exciting milestone for Cava, and we’re thrilled to welcome Zoe’s Kitchen to our family,” Mr. Schulman said. “Together, these two brands are united by a shared heritage and passion for exceptional Mediterranean cuisine. 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 — who crave delicious, healthy food without compromise. As part of the Cava family, Zoe’s Kitchen will benefit from Cava’s track record of bold culinary innovation and leveraging data and technology to drive growth and convenience.”