We Love Seeing New Yorkers Freak Out Over Cava (and Other DC Chains)

A viral TikTok video at Cava Midtown is just the latest example of an NYC craze for a DC brand.

NYC, calm down. It's just Cava. Photograph courtesy of Cava.

New York transplants in DC love whining about how “there’s no good pizza!” and “terrible bagels!” Wah! So it’s pretty satisfying to see New Yorkers completely lose their falafel balls over DC-based Mediterranean chain Cava—as evidenced in a viral TikTok this week.

“Rumor has it CAVA in midtown is the hardest club to get into in all of Manhattan,” writes @hannahsuewilson, showing a crowd of impatient-looking New Yorkers sweating in line outside the 38th Street location (the video has a perplexingly impressive 1.1+ million views).


Corporate lunch hour 🤝 CAVA sales #nyc #corporatelife #officelife #officehumor

♬ long way 2 go remix – oriaology.🖤


The New York Post swooped in and began interviewing the “fashionable”—arguable—crowd, like it was a red carpet entrance instead of a hot stretch of Broadway by Macy’s. One woman, Kathleen Miszkiewicz, 25, told the Post she waited AN HOUR AND A HALF to get a$13 bowl, because “it’s good and it’s healthy.” She even pre-ordered online, and was “foiled” (foiled!) and forced to wait in line evermore. A construction worker, Mani, risked it all, waiting 45 minutes out of her hour-long lunch break before sprinting back to the job and eating “real quick.” Feta-level crazy? You bet. 

We love Cava. We’ve loved Cava since it started as a Rockville restaurant 16 years ago. We loved Cava when it was a little Bethesda fast-casual known as Cava Grill. But the idea of hot, sweaty, jaded New Yorkers waiting in TKTS-length lines for our dear Cava makes the harissa-honey chicken that much sweeter.  

And it’s not just Cava! New Yorkers have a history of obsessing over DC chains. When Five Guys first landed in midtown in 2007, the Kathleen Miszkiewiczs of Manhattan waited AN HOUR AND A HALF for food (do these people work?). Midtown Lunch blog dubbed it “sheer and utter pandemonium.” And let’s not get started over Sweetgreen, which hit NYC like a salad storm in 2013 and garnered a three-star review from New York Magazine. The Underground Gourmet drank the Kool-Aid—in this case, hibiscus-berry clover tea—and declared: “Sweetgreen isn’t so much a salad bar as a lifestyle.”

A lifestyle of waiting in line for $14 food bowls—one that New Yorkers, when it comes to DC-born chains, seem eager to adopt. 

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.