Oct 12, 2023 - Economy

Why Ron Shaich thinks Cava is prepared to be a public company

Ron Shaich sits with Dan Primack

Ron Shaich (left) talks with Axios' Dan Primack at the BFD event Thursday. Photo: Steven Duarte/Axios

Cava chairman Ron Shaich said his company has what it takes to be a public company and took a jab at Sweetgreen, during Thursday's Axios BFD event.

The big picture: Shaich is arguably the creator of fast-casual dining, having founded and led Panera until its $7.5 billion acquisition by JAB in 2017.

  • He first invested in Cava when it was just a couple of stores, and helped negotiate its 2018 acquisition of struggling Zoe's Kitchen, which hyper-scaled Cava's business from 50 to 250 locations.
  • Shaich runs investment firm Act III, whose portfolio companies also include Tatte Bakery and Café and Life Alive Organic Café.

What they're saying: At the BFD event, he told Axios' Dan Primack that the Cava management team has been preparing to be public and they are ready.

  • "This business has a category in which it has the potential to own, which is dynamic and extraordinary," Shaich said of his Mediterranean fast-casual chain.

Primack asked about the differences between Sweetgreen and Cava noting Cava turned a profit last quarter and said "Sweetgreen hasn't turned a profit since well ever."

  • "I'm an old-fashioned guy I came alive in business when you didn't go public until you were profitable," Shaich said. "It's a crazy world. That's not a company prepared to be public. That's not a company that should be public."
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