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May 27, 2020 Deal Watch Today

Southington’s Cava Restaurant buys adjoining property ahead of $7M expansion

Photos | Cava The owners of Cava Restaurant in Southington are planning a major expansion for the 12-year-old business.

In a time of uncertainty for many small businesses, Southington’s upscale Cava Restaurant is plotting a major $7-million expansion to add ballroom, dining, parking and rooftop bar space.

The family-run business, which rebooted outdoor dining service May 20 amid the state’s phased economic reopening, recently invested more than $500,000 to acquire an adjoining 2-acre property on West Street to make room for an additional 200 parking spaces and a 6,000-square-foot addition to its main restaurant, Cava General Manager Tony Papahristou told HBJ in an interview.

As part of the deal, Cava is seeding a nearby overflow parking lot with 100 spaces back to the neighboring property owner. The 300-seat Italian restaurant is not making changes to its existing 56-space parking area at 1615 West St., said Papahristou, son of owners Stavros and Eleni.

Papahristou estimated the new parking area, equipped with several Tesla charging stations, will cost at least $1 million to build. Construction on the parking lot is scheduled to begin in the next month or so, he said.

The remainder of Cava’s roughly $7-million project is focused on expanding the restaurant by up to 6,000 square feet.

According to plans, the new structure will feature a large foyer welcoming guests to a 200-seat ballroom and other dining and rooftop bar space featuring another 75 seats. Cava’s kitchen will also be expanded by 1,000 square feet and an elevator will be installed for guest use.

A groundbreaking date for that part of the expansion is still in limbo as the restaurant must obtain certain town approvals and building permits to move forward with construction, Papahristou said. But he estimated the additional seating areas could be ready for use by 2022 if construction begins in the next year.

The expansion comes a dozen years after Cava, known for its Italian-influenced menu and annual Christmas light show, debuted with sweeping views of West Street and Mount Southington. Three years ago, the business also rolled out a new sleek white rooftop bar.

The restaurant, Papahristou said, has been busy since it reopened outdoor dining service last week when Connecticut started the process of reopening its economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cava is currently seating guests across a 2,700-square-foot white tent it setup in the restaurant’s parking lot to comply with new social distancing rules for outdoor and patio dining areas, Papahristou said. The business spruced up the 80-seat outdoor dining area with overhead lighting, a grand piano and flowers. It also installed hand-free door openers in restrooms. 

Cava plans to use the tent until at least June 20, the date Connecticut is tentatively scheduled to begin its second phase of reopening.

“Business has been really good since we reopened May 20,” Papahristou said. “We had a lot of regulars come back and the weekdays eventually picked up and now almost everyday is busy.”

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