Bethesda Interview: The Cava Guys
The unstoppable creators of Crazy Feta talk about growing up Greek, mistakes they’ve made and the pressures of success
So do you feel a lot of pressure?
Ike: I don’t think we feel pressure. But there’s definitely something. You want to succeed. It’s been our drive from day one. We’ve been very fortunate. Even our investors are amazing. We appreciate that. We don’t come from money. We’ve worked for everything that we have. We feel the need to be successful because we don’t want to let people down.
Dimitri: I feel pressure. [Laughter] With 65 [CAVA] stores, the 200 Whole Foods and all the dips that people are buying, plus all the food service and catering we’re doing—that’s a lot of people who critique you or praise you at the end of that day. I like being nervous. It helps you not lay back.
Ted: I agree with Dimitri. I wake up, I feel the pressure. It’s like nervous butterflies, like going out on a first date. I think we’re always feeling a little bit of pressure because we’re always doing something new as we grow.
You’ve really expanded from your home base. Do you still feel a strong connection to Montgomery County?
Ted: It’s where we were born, where we were raised, where we go to church. I went away to California [to open CAVA restaurants] and my mom gave me crap for the whole year and a half that I was gone. We can’t move too far away from our families. We have everything here.
Dimitri: I’m raising my kids in Montgomery County. I have two little ones, an 11-year-old and a 9-year-old. There’s no better place for them to grow up than Montgomery County.
Ted: The other day I walked into a grocery store and I saw a customer who had been eating at the original CAVA [in Rockville] since day one, and he was like, ‘Come here, give me a hug, I’m so proud of you guys. I remember coming to the restaurant in the first week or two and how hard you guys worked. You guys really deserve it.’ We’re kind of like the home team. Our customers are cheering for us. n
Carole Sugarman is a longtime food writer and a contributing editor at Bethesda Magazine. The Bethesda Interview is edited for clarity and length.