CAVA: Ted Xenohristos and Brett Schulman

When Ted Xenohristos and two childhood friends opened their first sit-down Greek restaurant in 2006, they had no idea it would eventually grow into CAVA, a sprawling national chain that serves stuffed pita sandwiches and salads. Raised by Greek immigrants, the three founders understood how to make great food, but were rookies at running a restaurant–maxing out their credit cards, and learning the hard way that you should never write dinner orders on sticky-notes. As the restaurant tried to raise its profile by selling its hummus and tzatziki to grocery stores, it continued to lose money. But eventually the founders decided to hire Brett Schulman as their boss. Brett had invaluable experience in the snack food industry, and predicted that CAVA’s Mediterranean cooking would take off among health-conscious diners. He was right. Today, CAVA is a publicly-traded company with over 280 restaurants across the country.

This episode was produced by Sam Paulson with music by Ramtin Arablouei and Sam Paulson.

Edited by Neva Grant, with research from Rommel Wood.

Our engineers were Gilly Moon and Patrick Murray.

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