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 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’s we’re learning about Miguel Salazar, CAVA Culver City’s General Manager. The Los Angeles native tells us about his passion for punk rock, his advice for success at CAVA, and how he fell in love with CAVA’s food — and values.
Let’s start with your CAVA story. How long have you been with CAVA, and how did you hear about it?
I’ve been with CAVA since November 2017. I heard about it through my regional leader, Elena. I came in, tasted the food, and fell in love. Elena told me about CAVA’s culture, and I liked what I heard, so I jumped in. I’ve been loving it ever since!
I was hired as a general manager and started at Westwood, where I did my training. Then I opened up Culver City and have been the general manager there ever since.What was it that attracted you?
Our values: Transparency, humility, fanaticism, positivity, thoughtfulness. They really resonated with me.
When I was first introduced to CAVA’s values, I remember thinking, “Wow.” And these values are pretty much how I run things with my team day to day.
I’ve worked for other companies, where the mission and values were not really what I believed in. But at CAVA, we follow these values.
Tell us a little bit about CAVA Culver City. What do you love about it?
It’s a beautiful little restaurant. Some CAVA restaurants are really big, but this one is the perfect size. It’s relaxing to work at and to visit. The interior is beautiful, but even the exterior is special. We have the back wall that is painted in turquoise and orange that’s a lot of fun. We even have bands that come in to have photos taken in front of it. It makes for a cool background.
And the Culver City community is great. We see a lot of families and friends stop by, especially on the weekends. The whole place lights up.
What does a day in a life look like for you?
I’ve always got to start with my cup of coffee. It’s a must, you know? I come into work, say hi to my team. We start working on prep. We try to keep all the personal stuff outside and just be present. We have fun together, get the job done, and celebrate our accomplishments.
What is your leadership style? How do you get your team excited?
I like to create a nice welcoming environment for my team and customers. I lead by example: I have a positive attitude, and that sets the tone for my team.
I make sure to not just tell them what to do – I show, tell, explain why, and then we work together as a team.
What lessons have you learned from working at CAVA that may be different from other places you’ve worked?
It’s all about the food. I worked in coffee for 10 years, and the difference is big. There, you have to think about coffee, pastries, and dairy. Here, you have all sorts of things. You have your juices, your proteins, your salads. It’s a lot more intricate. I like the challenge, and I’m learning a lot.
What advice do you give your team members on how to be successful at their job?
My advice to all my team members is to be humble and to speak up. If there’s a problem, be open with me. I can’t solve a problem if I don’t know about it. Work as a team. If they want the opportunity to grow, also let me know. I’d put them on a plan, and set them up for success.
I like seeing people grow, get promoted. I feel accomplished when someone from my team gets promoted.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I like to listen to music a lot. I’m really into punk rock. I play the drums and used to be in a band. I also have two beautiful kids now, a 5-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son, so I spend time with them.
How did you get into music?
Music was always around in my life. In elementary school, I started playing the flute. Then, I picked up the saxophone. Then in high school, I started playing the bass. Finally, I ended up with drums, which was super random. I was in a band, and the drummer left a drumset in my house and never came back for it. I started messing around with it, and that’s how I grew the passion for it. Out of all of the instruments I’ve played, that’s the one that stuck.
My most recent favorite is a salad with arugula. I had never given arugula a chance before. I had it in a bowl last week, and I was like, “Whoa.” It’s a game changer.
Then I get Crazy Feta, always. I’m a big fan of our Crazy Feta. Then tzatziki, and grilled chicken or beef meatballs. For my toppings, I go for extra cabbage slaw, extra feta cheese, pickled onions, and tomatoes and onions. For the dressings, I like to mix it up with a full drizzle of Lemon Herb Tahini, and two stripes of the Green Harissa.
We’re looking for passionate and positive go-getters like Miguel to join our growing CAVA team. Think you’re the one for the job? Join us.