We’re happiest when we’re sharing our food, our culture, and our vibes with others. And we couldn’t do that without every one of our CAVA team members. It’s 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’s we’re chatting with Alex, Full Stack Engineer, about what she loves about working at CAVA, her competitive karaoke league, and her adorable one-year-old bernedoodle, Bean.
Alex, tell us a little bit about what you do at CAVA. What does it mean to be a full stack engineer?
I work on CAVA’s online ordering and app ordering experiences. I work on both what you see when you order, as well as the behind-the-scenes functionality that enables digital ordering, like the database and back-end services.
What does a day in the life of a Full Stack Engineer at CAVA look like?
It really depends! Each day can be different, depending on bugs, priorities, and long-term projects. There are days where we suddenly learn of a problem with our in-store point-of-sale system or our online ordering system — I have to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. But we also have ongoing, long-term projects. These days, I’m involved in redesigning our app, so I spend a lot of time looking at potential designs and functionalities. Over the past week, I’ve been working on new functionality for our digital ordering and our app.
What’s unique about working in tech in the restaurant industry — and specifically at CAVA?
I think one thing that I would’ve never thought about before working here is the aspect of real-time, on-the-fly challenges. If anyone experiences a problem in ordering or processing a payment — that’s something we have to fix right away. That’s the sort of thing that doesn’t really exist in industries that aren’t restaurants. Restaurants, in many ways, are behind the curve tech-wise—so my job, together with my entire team, is to bring our tools up-to-speed with the rest of the tech industry.
What has been your proudest moment at CAVA so far?
I’ve recently taken up the lead on integrating a new provider. That has meant I’ve been involved in a lot of calls, planning sessions, meetings – I’ve done a lot of the groundwork, and it feels really good to own this new piece. It makes me feel really integrated into the team.
What’s the hardest part about your job?
One of the hardest parts has been learning a new programming language. We use Elixir as our main back-end language here at CAVA, which isn’t really widely used, and it’s a new-ish language. I had no experience with it at all, so there was a bit of a steep learning curve there. Plus — and that’s not unique to CAVA but a challenge for anyone in the tech industry — making sure I constantly stay up-to-date on current engineering standards while working a full-time job. That’s always a challenge.
What are your favorite things about working at CAVA?
The people, hands down. I love my team, as well as everyone else that works for the company. One of my favorite memories so far is our Day of Service. At CAVA, every employee gets at least one paid day a year to dedicate to volunteering. Over the summer, the entire DC Support Center volunteered at City Blossoms, our local nonprofit partner. We helped clean up and prepare two of their gardens for the upcoming school year. Volunteering together is a nice way to not only hang out with my own team outside of the office, but also to get to meet and bond with all other teams. And — it feels good to work for a company that values giving back to the community.
Which of CAVA’s values do you connect with the most —and why?
Definitely positivity and fanaticism. Both of these values are ingrained in my personality. I’m an optimist and a people pleaser. Making people laugh makes my heart warm. So I do always strive to remain positive. And then I can get also get really, really excited about something and can be … I don’t want to call myself ‘crazy’, but I can get a little crazy about the things and the people that I love. Some might say I am a positive fanatic.
What advice would you give someone who’s just starting out in building their career as an engineer, either in the food space or anywhere else?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Never stop learning. And — find a community of like-minded people, whether it’s in the tech industry or not, to help you along and be your champion.
Tell us a little bit about your adorable dog, Bean.
Oh, my Bean. Oh, she’s an angel. She is a bernedoodle. And she turns one soon. She’s just such a fluff ball. We got her from an Amish farm. When we pulled up and walked out of the car, I sat down on the grass and she just ran into my arms. She still does now, though she’s 30lbs heavier, so… she knocks me over a lot. Dogs are so much work, but so worth it. Coming home at the end of the day and having this little furball knock you over is the best.
And we love the fact that you bring her to the office.
She loves people so it’s so nice to be in a place where I can bring her with me on Thursdays and Fridays (our official bring-your-pup-to-work days). It’s easy because I know that she loves everyone in the office, and everyone in the office loves her. So if she’s not with me at any given time, she’s probably getting treats from someone else in the office.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m on a competitive karaoke team. It’s set up like an intramural sports league: We have two seasons during the year, and four different nights of league play. There are six teams each night, and two rounds of solos and then a group round. Some weeks are themed, so people get really into it with costumes, choreography, and props. It’s super-duper fun — and it’s also the most accepting group of people I think I’ve ever met. We only operate in safe-space bars in the city, and we have a float in the Pride Parade every summer, so it’s a very inclusive environment.
What’s your favorite song that you got to sing as part of the competitions?
It changes – but I think one of my go-tos is Work It by Missy Elliot. It’s a fun song that not a lot of people sing, and I love Missy Elliot.
Do you like to cook? What’s your go-to dish?
I love to cook, but I go through phases. I think I picked this up from my dad because my dad also loves to cook, and he’ll get on this trend where he’ll cook the exact same thing for weeks and weeks, until he’s sick of it. For a while, I made chicken paprikash all the time. You cook chicken in this paprika creamy stew, and then you put it over egg noodles. Recently, I’ve been really into mixed vegetable and wild rice soup. In general, though, I like baking more than I like cooking.
And finally, what is your go-to CAVA bowl?
SuperGreens, always. One or two Harissa scoops, depending on the mood. Then Crazy Feta and Traditional Hummus. I usually get the roasted vegetables as my protein, and from the toppings, I get the Tomato and Cucumber, Cabbage Slaw, Olives, Crumbled Feta and then Green Harissa. And I love our Blood Orange Ginger juice right now. It’s so, so good.
We’re looking for passionate and positive go-getters like Alex to join our growing CAVA team. Think you’re the one for the job? Join us.