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Local chainlet Cava Grill will open its first locations outside the D.C. area this year. With the help of $16 million in new investment funds, the Greek-inspired fast-casual restaurant has secured two locations in Los Angeles and has plans for additional local expansion.

CEO Brett Schulman says they were interested in L.A. because of its health-conscious populace and the mix of commercial and residential neighborhoods. “We just felt like it was a great market with a long-term opportunity for us to grow like we are growing here and will continue to grow here,” Schulman says. Co-founder Ted Xenohristos will be moving out to California to help with the expansion, and a few managers will join him.

Cava also recently expanded its line of dips and spreads (hummus, harissa, tzaziki, and more) to Whole Foods in Chicago and the midwest. The group is looking to make its products available in California’s organic and natural markets as well.

Another thing to look out for: a new vegetarian option for menus beyond falafel. Cava Grill has been experimenting with local, seasonal roasted vegetables, which will likely be added as a protein option in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Cava Grill continues to actively seek locations in and around D.C., although there are no specific goals or timelines for expansion. Among the neighborhoods Schulman is interested in are Dupont and Logan circles, but he hasn’t been able to find the right property yet. “We’ve always try to be patient to find the right locations in the right neighborhoods where we’d be a good fit,” he says. “So when those opportunities come up, we’ll try to find deals.”

Cava Grill is coming to Fairfax in May, Ashburn in August, and Reagan National Airport in late June or July.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery