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Miles said the company is looking at some menu innovations, most targeted for 2015. Zoës Kitchen added quinoa to the menu in 2013, he added, and “it has moved up in the salad category.”

Chicken kabobs are the restaurant’s No. 1 seller, and steak kabobs are No. 2, he added.

“We introduced the steak kabobs in the second quarter of 2012, and it immediately jumped up from a new item to No. 2 in the mix,” Miles said. “We saw a lot of folks trade up from the chicken kabob, which is $8.99, to the steak kabob, which is $11.49. So we got a nice lift in mix. It’s a great dinner item.”

Zoës Kitchen has a dine-in check average of $9.57. Out-of-store onsite catering makes up 17 percent of sales, and orders average $200 each. Other takeout is 13 to 15 percent of sales, Morgan said.

Zoe's team, including CEO Kevin Miles (left-center), at the New York Stock Exchange

“A lot of the other fast-casual guys are getting into catering or trying to replicate what we are doing,” Morgan added. “What’s interesting about our business is that 17 percent [of our work] is typically done in the morning. Our cooks show up at 7 or 7:30 [a.m.] to prep fresh food for the day, and they are assembling the catering. The catering typically goes out the door by 11:30 each morning, so essentially we have that 17 percent in the restaurant before the first customer shows up. Catering is our breakfast daypart.”

Zoe’s Kitchen was founded in 1995 by Zoë and Marcus Cassimus in Birmingham, Ala., and in 2007, private-equity firm Brentwood Associates took a primary stake in the company.

According to SEC filings, Zoe’s Kitchen had revenues of $116.4 million for the Dec. 30-ended 2013 fiscal year, compared with $79.7 million in the prior year. Average unit volumes were near $1.5 million. Same-store sales in 2013 increased 6.9 percent compared with the prior year, lapping a 13.4-percent increase in same-store sales in 2012.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless