Zoë's Kitchen is a Greek-inspired "fast casual" restaurant, formerly a chain with more than 300 locations across the country.
The first Zoë's was opened in 1995 by Marcus and Zoë Cassimus in a 900-square-foot space in downtown Birmingham. The couple later relocated to Homewood. In 1999 the Cassimus' son, John approached them to propose expanding the business. He purchased the development rights with partner Archie Andrews and brought in CFO Kasey Burleson. They opened a second location in Riverchase and, within four years, the chain had six locations, including restaurants in Tuscaloosa and Nashville, Tennessee.
The chain replaced its hand-painted chicken logo with a bright new corporate identity and prototype interior designed by Chute Gerdeman of Columbus, Ohio. Local schoolchildren provide artwork to decorate the interiors. The redesign debuted in the chain's flagship store in One Federal Place in 2003. The restaurant chain's main office was located at 2901 2nd Avenue South in the Martin Biscuit Building at Pepper Place.
In late October 2007 Cassimus sold a majority stake in the business to Brentwood Associates of Los Angeles, California. Cassimus remained CEO while Greg Dollarhyde, formerly of Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, became chairman. After the sale, Cassimus expressed hopes that the company would be able to open as many as 200 locations across the South and Southwest over the next five years. Dollarhyde was named CEO after Cassimus stepped down in November 2008. Trey Hornsby was appointed COO to manage day-to-day operations in Birmingham. Kevin Miles, another Baja Fresh veteran, was appointed president in March 2011.
In April 2008 the company received a $1 million equity investment and a $10 million revolver loan from GE Capital Solutions Franchise Finance which enabled it to launch as many as 180 new locations over the next five years. 18 of those were set to open by December 2009 including locations in existing markets in Alabama, Arizona and Tennessee as well as Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Washington D. C.; Baltimore, Maryland; Austin, Texas; and Denver, Colorado.
Zoe's Kitchen quietly moved its headquarters offices to Plano, Texas between 2011 and 2013 as it prepared take the company public. Its filing for an initial public offering took place in March 2014. By January 2018 the chain had 247 locations in 20 states.
Zoe's Kitchen had expanded to 327 locations in 24 states when it was acquired by CAVA Group Inc. of Washington D.C. in fall 2018 for $300 million. Over the next two years the number of Zoe's Kitchen locations dropped to 176 while the number of CAVA locations, which feature a "build-your-own" Mediterranean concept, increased from 66 to 112. In 2021 the company began converting many of its Zoe's Kitchen locations into CAVA, which it considered its "growth brand". By January 2023 only one Zoe's location remained open in the Birmingham area, at One Federal Place downtown.
In January 2023 John Cassimus announced that his family had struck a deal with CAVA to re-open and independently operate the Crestline Village location, which had closed in December, under the Zoe's name.
Birmingham area locations
- 225 Country Club Park, Crestline Village, Mountain Brook
- 1819 5th Avenue North, One Federal Place, Birmingham
- downtown Birmingham (1995–)
- downtown Homewood (before 1999)
- 323 Summit Boulevard, The Summit, Birmingham (2002-2019)
- 1830 29th Avenue South Suite 115, SoHo Square, Homewood (closed July 2022)
- 5431 Patrick Way Suite 113, Trussville (2018-2021)
- 5247 U.S. Highway 280, Brook Highlands (closed July 2022)
- 180 Main Street, #140, Patton Creek Shopping Center, Hoover (2012–2022)
- 700 Montgomery Highway, Vestavia Hills (2011–2022)
- 312 Merchant's Walk, Tuscaloosa (closed 2022)
- Zganjar, Leslie (July 21, 2003) "Zoë's loses the chicken, grows legs." Birmingham Business Journal
- Parham, Linda (July 29, 2003) "Zoë's Kitchen turns up heat with expansion plan, new look." The Birmingham News
- Michael, Brooke (November 20, 2003) "New look, same family recipes." Birmingham Weekly
- Goodman, Sherri C. (November 2, 2007) "Zoë's Kitchen selling big stake." The Birmingham News
- Cooper, Lauren B. (April 15, 2008) "Zoë's Kitchen to open 50 more restaurants." Birmingham Business Journal
- Williams, Roy L. (June 22, 2008) "Zoe's CEO plans 180 sites in five years." The Birmingham News
- Williams, Roy L. (December 10, 2008) "New Zoe's Kitchen CEO wants to double the 21 locations within two years." The Birmingham News
- Carlton, Bob (January 16, 2010) "Zoe's Kitchen in Birmingham introduces steak roll-ups, other meats to the menu." The Birmingham News
- Underwood, Jerry (October 12, 2010) "Zoes Kitchen cooks up ambitious expansion plans." The Birmingham News
- Williams, Roy L. (April 28, 2011) "New head of Birmingham's Zoe's restaurants plans continued expansion." The Birmingham News
- "Why Zoës Kitchen moved its HQ from Birmingham" (March 19, 2014) Birmingham Business Journal
- Ruggless, Ron (January 16, 2018) "Zoe’s Kitchen debuts next-generation design." Nation's Restaurant News
- "Zöes Kitchen to be acquired by Mediterranean restaurant group" (August 17, 2018) Birmingham Business Journal
- "Cava to Convert Two More Atlanta Area Zoës, Plans to Slowly Kill Brand Come into Focus" (April 22, 2021) Tomorrow's News Today - Atlanta
- Woods, Ashlee (July 6, 2022) "Zoe’s Kitchen closing metro Birmingham location." Birmingham Business Journal
- Watson, Nathan (January 1, 2023) "Zoës Kitchen closes in Mountain Brook." Bham Now
- Koplowitz, Howard (January 11, 2023) "Zoe’s Kitchen coming back to Crestline Village under original owners." AL.com