We’re happiest when we’re sharing our food, our culture, our vibes, with others. And we couldn’t do that without every one of our Cava team members. It’s a fanaticism that can’t be faked – it’s a passion we just have to share.
So we’re hearing straight from our team about how they savor life – not just while they’re on the clock, but (perhaps even more importantly) while they’re off it.
Today we’re hearing from Elly, who’s a supervisor-in-training at our Chinatown location. Elly’s diving headfirst into running shifts and training his team on how best to deliver awesome customer service and great food — PLUS, he boasts a full-fledged career as a hip-hop musician.
How long have you been with the Cava team?
I’ve been at Cava Grill for about two years now. I do a little bit of everything. I’ve been here at Chinatown since it opened.
I look at work not as a job. I look at it as a place to be myself and meet new people and give off my happy vibes. To be able to extend an open hand out to people — just making someone’s day — that’s always been a good thing for me.
What’s your favorite part of working with your team?
My favorite part of being with this team since the beginning has always been the family I’ve created here. At every other job I’ve worked at, there was never a culture that was family-oriented — here everyone’s really close.
It’s been interesting in this new role working toward Supervisor: I’m just so happy and I try to give that energy off to everybody. And I personally don’t let issues come with me to work. When I’m here, I’m focusing. Because if everyone isn’t happy at work, you’re not going to have a great business.How do you spend your free time?
I am actually a musician, so I go out of town a lot. I’m into hip-hop.
I’ve been into music since about 4th grade. That’s when I first got introduced to poetry. And I’ve always just had a passion for it. I used to play violin, French horn, a little flute… and I’m trying to learn piano.
What’s your creative process for making music?
I just try to incorporate whatever’s going on in my everyday life — making it something you can relate to. I try and keep it as organic as possible. Even if I just see something that’s going on around me, I will incorporate that into it as well. It can take five or ten minutes, or it can take two or three months.
And then when I go to perform, I always say a prayer. And then I just rehearse my lyrics and as soon as it hits, I don’t pay attention to the crowd. I just go for it.How has Cava impacted your creative pursuits?
The music industry is really crazy. Yes, you can be an artist but you still have to be business savvy at that. I try to apply everything I’ve learned here at Cava to my overall goal of being a musician. I think about it like, I’m working hard here, helping someone else’s business, so it’s helping me become a better businessperson for myself. Learning everything I can helps me move forward.
I’ve also learned so much about customer service. If the customer is happy, they will always come back. It’s the same with music — putting out great music and getting people to see it, that means they’re going to keep looking for more.
How have you evolved as a musician?
I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of big names, shows like SXSW or AC3 in Atlanta, which I’m doing in October. It’s really how you maneuver and finesse your way. You’ve got to hustle. I like that with my time at Cava, it’s more than just coming to work and doing the simple motions. It’s about me opening my eyes and looking to really expand my brain and my hustle.
Where can we find your music?
I used to work in HR for a big company. In the department I worked in, we fired people. It was kind of like I had to be the bearer of bad news all the time. I had to write exit interviews and it was horrible. I never want to do that again.
Mostly, I just couldn’t sit in an office all day. I was falling asleep at work. I still got everything done, but I just didn’t see myself doing that work. I need to be active, talking to people, making someone’s day better.Any favorite food memories?
I used to work at Pizzeria Paradiso, and I was really in love with pizza when I was younger. All I wanted to do was eat pizza. I’m all about straight pepperoni. Double pepperoni!
What’s your go-to Cava order?
Brown rice with spicy lamb meatballs, tzatziki, red pepper hummus, and harissa. I don’t get that many toppings — only cabbage, pickled onions, Sriracha greek yogurt. And I love the watermelon mint juice!