New York workers wait 90 minutes in line for Cava’s trendy lunch

Midtown lunch rush is back.

On a sweltering weekday summer day in Midtown Manhattan, where supposedly no one works anymore, a hip crowd lined the sidewalk outside the fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant Cava.

The Greek-inspired chain’s Broadway and 38th Street location has been jokingly hailed as “the hardest club to get into in all of Manhattan,” in a now-viral TikTok posted by Big Apple influencer @HannahSueWilson.

Do you remember the pandemic? Remember when Midtown restaurants were on their last legs? Say that to trendy diners who wait up to 90 minutes in a queue situation outside the door for their lemon chicken bowls.

“I have queued for an hour and a half to get food here. It’s good and healthy,” Kathleen Miszkiewicz, 25, told The Post, sweating in the bright sun.

Customers have waited in line for up to 90 minutes at Cava on Broadway and 38th in Manhattan, hoping to order one of the chain's bountiful Mediterranean bowls.
Customers have waited in line for up to 90 minutes at Cava on Broadway and 38th in Manhattan, hoping to order one of the chain’s bountiful Mediterranean bowls.
Robert Miller
Cava on Broadway has been considered the
Cava on Broadway has been called the “hardest nightclub to get into in all of Manhattan” due to its notoriously long lunch lines.
Robert Miller

Cava was first launched in the 2010s in Rockville, Maryland, and now the brand has become common in the Washington, DC area. Lately, however, the most recently opened branches in Manhattan have become something like the post-pandemic answer to Chipotle, or the various $20 chopped salad joints.

In the TikTok clip, which garnered more than 1.1 million views, a horde of livelihood seekers is shown sacrificing their hour-long lunch breaks as they wait to be served $13 vegetable-protein-grain mixes. .

So popular are Cava’s make-your-own bowls, with options like falafel, spicy lamb meatballs and roasted vegetables, as well as a variety of delicious toppings, that those hoping to get the not-so-fast-food chain lunch often They try to beat the rush by pre-ordering through the Cava app or website. Miszkiewicz, who stepped forward with his two colleagues, saw those efforts frustrated.

Fans of Greek-inspired food say they don't mind waiting in long lines because the restaurant offers a healthy and affordable alternative to the greasy pizzerias and hot dogs downtown.
Fans of Greek-inspired food say they don’t mind waiting in long lines because the restaurant offers a healthy and affordable alternative to the greasy pizzerias and hot dogs downtown.
Robert Miller

“We ordered our food in advance [online] at 11:30 am to pick up at 12 pm Now it’s 12:30 and we still have to wait,” said the business consultant. “It’s annoying, but the food is worth it.”

The restaurant’s staggering popularity makes a strong case for the return of the city’s lunch hour, which plummeted in 2020 and 2021 while most of the workforce worked (and ate) at home.

But Broadway Cava general manager Yasmairi Mercedes said her store has seen a boom in patronage since more employees were required to return to their offices, many on a hybrid schedule, earlier this year.

“It’s really nice to see how the business has grown since the pandemic,” Mercedes, 21, told The Post as customers streamed through the door. “We’re actually making more money now than we were before the pandemic.”

Other places, like the Cava on 42nd Street near Bryant Park and the one on Madison Avenue on 40th Street, also command crowds of hungry midday customers.

And as nine-to-five workers continue to readjust to their physical work lives, many are using every minute of their afternoon break to eat, drink and maybe even make a love connection.

“I wish,” said Emily Seitz and Jill Folger, two Cava frequenters and fashion store co-workers, both 26, when asked if they had ever flirted with a corporate hottie in the club-like line. Cava night.

Customers queuing on the street at Cava, Broadway and 38th, NYC.
The sweltering summer temperatures haven’t dampened the enthusiasm for Cava’s branch on Broadway and 38th Street in the Garment District.
Robert Miller

Best friends from work, who pre-ordered their takeout, waited 15 minutes as part of the pickup crowd.

Still, most seem satisfied just walking in and getting a nice afternoon snack.

“The line is almost always very long,” Mani, 35, who works in construction and asked not to share his last name, told The Post. In the past, she has waited more than 45 minutes for her usual plate of chicken habanero, leaving her with only 15 minutes to feast.

In unexpected cases like that, Mani said, laughing, “I just run back to my office and eat really fast.”

Similarly, software pro David Carmichael, 29, told The Post that he usually doesn’t mind letting the minutes tick by while he waits for a plate of falafel and feta.

The restaurant's general manager said his location is making more money now than it was before the national outbreak of COVID-19.
The restaurant’s general manager said his location is making more money now than it was before the national outbreak of COVID-19.
Robert Miller

But even he has his limits. “Every time I see the line out the door, I walk away,” she said.

Such was the case for Loren Fass, 33, and her co-workers, who saw Cava’s intense line at a glance and immediately chose to eat elsewhere.

“It’s long, and we have to go back [to work]complained Fass, a staffer at a women’s intimate apparel wholesaler in Midtown.

Others were equally dissuaded by the Cava mafia.

Despite the club-like line, most of the regulars confessed that they haven't gotten mixed up romantically or mingle with any other corporate beauty while waiting.
Despite the club-like line, most of the regulars confessed that they haven’t gotten mixed up romantically or mingle with any other corporate beauty while waiting.
Robert Miller

“I’m not a person who waits in line,” said Meagan Neville, 37, who stopped by with her co-worker in the fashion industry, Margaret Derby, 30.

“It’s good food,” Derby said. “But the TikTok nightclub [aspect] it’s not for me.

Leave a Comment