When it comes to healthy and tasty food, Zoe’s Kitchen is one of the newcomers in the game but that hasn’t stopped them from stirring things up. Compared to other restaurants, Zoe’s is a very traditional establishment with a limited menu that focuses primarily on Mediterranean food. The limited menu choices allow Zoe’s to focus on quality, not just quantity, to satisfy customers and earn sales.
One thing that really sets Zoe’s apart from the rest of the crowd is the fact that they use fresh ingredients coming right from the back door – meaning they are freshly delivered every day.
Of course there are many restaurants and fast food chains that try to achieve this healthy aesthetic as well. Subway was very popular for allowing customers to make their own tacos but in time they encountered controversies because of unhealthy food preparation.
Zoe’s Kitchen avoids these by using organic beef and vegetables prepared naturally and fresh. You won’t find deep fried beef swimming in calories and unhealthy oil; instead the restaurant focuses on traditional Greek grilling to get the flavor without creating an unhealthy pit of fats and oils.
Zoe’s Kitchen was founded by John Cassimus back in 1995. The brand was incorporated in Jefferson County, Alabama and the very first branch opened in Homewood, Alabama. The name is derived from John’s mom, Zoe Cassimus, who was the inspiration for the now giant health-centered restaurant.
All the recipes are derived from Zoe Cassimus who specialized in Mediterranean (especially Greek) food items. Zoe focused most of her life in homemade recipes that didn’t involve unhealthy ingredients or methods of cooking, which is why there are no deep fryers or microwaves in any of the branches.
A second store would open in 1999 and then a third by 2001. By the 3rd quarter of 2001 Zoe’s Kitchen expanded out of state and opened its doors in Nashville, Tennessee. Five years later and sixteen more branches opened, eight of them located in Alabama.
By the next year, 2007, four more opened. John Cassimus would then sell a large portion of ownership to BALA or Brentwood Associates of Los Angeles. Despite this he remained as chief executive and would continue to manage the brand until he was succeeded by Greg Dollarhyde right after John’s resignation in 2008.
Kevin Miles took over Greg Dollarhyde in 2011 as president of Zoe’s Kitchen. Kevin Miles resume included work at Baja Fresh, Pollo Campero, as well as Luby’s.
2011 also saw new innovations for the company; by 2011 the company directly owned its branches save for 11 franchises. Kevin Miles stated that multi-unit franchising would soon become available. It was also the year that Zoe’s launched its online ordering system.
In 2013 the company released its online loyalty app.
The menu is quite limited with only a few select choices but this allows the restaurant to focus primarily on fresh ingredients and quality preparation. One of their most popular items is their chicken salad as well as their pasta salad, all dressed in traditional Greek styling with fresh toppings, olive oil and dressing.
Zoe’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich is another all-time favorite is becoming one of the most iconic menu items from the company, along with its fresh salads that use freshly delivered vegetables. Just about every review for Zoe’s Kitchen praises their Grilled Chicken Sandwich.
Zoe’s Kitchen also offers the Mediterranean Family Meals – used to be known as the “Dinner for Four” – which is a very popular item for families.
Interesting Information About Zoe’s Kitchen
The restaurant has a wide variety of dining choices – a customer may choose to dine in, call a few minutes ahead for take-out, or can order online. Side dishes may also be ordered by the pint, making Zoe’s one of the restaurants that allow large orders of side dishes whereas many other establishments limit these to one or two per meal.
The restaurant also has a very extensive catering service. Since the menu focuses primarily on freshly made items, Zoe’s Kitchen is capable of catering to very large groups and is becoming a household favorite for weddings, birthdays, and other events.
Another interesting tidbit is that Zoe’s Kitchen completely avoids microwaves. It’s not just for the fact that microwaves emit unhealthy radiation but also because preparing food in one isn’t the “traditional Mediterranean way”.
Zoe Cassimus was famous for stating that if something wasn’t considered food a century ago it shouldn’t be considered food today, referring to all the unhealthy processes and food chemicals used these days.
Many of the vegetables are grown in house. This means that each branch has their own garden where the vegetables are grown. This allows the crops to be delivered on time and it guarantees that the newly delivered crops are as freshly picked as possible.