Laura Hayes

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Shaw’s Cava Grill debuts Tuesday in the Shay Building with free meals from 5-8 p.m. The homegrown Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant will then open with regular operating hours (11 a.m. to 10 p.m.) starting Wednesday.

This is the 23rd location to open since the chain debuted in 2011, and it will also serve as the brand’s “Innovative Kitchen,” which means they’ll host events and test recipes, among other things.

The opening coincides with the launch of Cava Grill’s new winter menu, which features roasted tomato and harissa soup; spicy turmeric tahini; juices rich in Vitamin C, including beet lemonade and green apple fennel; and new vegetable options, including sumac brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and parsnips.

On Tuesday night when Cava Grill is doling out free meals, they’ll also accept donations for City Blossoms—their local non-profit partner that has a community garden in Shaw to help young people in the neighborhood eat healthy. Also listen for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington because they’ll be singing carols. That evening, Whisked! will be selling holiday pies with 50 percent of proceeds going to City Blossoms and Cava Grill will hand out spiced chai green tea while guests wait in line. Because there will be a line!

Cava Grill was founded by Ted Xenohristos, Ike Grigoropoulos, and Executive Chef Dimitri Moshovitis who share Greek heritage and a love for Greek food. At their restaurants, diners can build pitas, salads, and rice bowls and top them with proteins like spicy lamb sliders or falafel before moving on to toppings and sauces.

Cava Grill, 1921 8th St. NW; cavagrill.com