COLLEGE PARK, Md.– After months of waiting, University of Maryland students turned out in droves for the opening of Cava in the College Park Shopping Center yesterday morning.
Rifka Herman, a freshman neurobiology and physiology major, went straight from her 8 a.m. class in order to be one of the first diners and score a free meal.
“Usually I go back and sleep after,” said Herman, “but on Fridays [my friend and I] do our chemistry lab report for two hours, like 9 to 11 a.m. So, I was like ‘Why not just wait in line and be one of the first ones?’”
Herman, who often dines at the Rockville location, camped on the concrete with her friend to work on her lab report.
Cava announced College Park’s opening day on Twitter on Nov. 27, saying, “We’re celebrating with free meals for the first 150 guests–with all donations going to City Blossoms.”
City Blossoms is a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. that creates community green spaces.
Jordan Metzman, a junior marketing major and the campus representative for Cava, explained that the donations make a difference and help Cava give back to the local community.
“You can see really amazing things when people are getting free food,” Metzman said. “They’re like ‘Yeah, you know what? I will donate this $10.’”
Cava serves Mediterranean food in the form of salads, bowls and pitas. The chain originated in Rockville and Washington D.C., and is now located in nine other states.
“College Park has been a long time waiting,” said Sergio Valdivia, the area leader for Cava stores in Maryland. “We’re just ready to bring in another healthy option for the campus and the community as well.”
Cava has a tradition of doing two free preview meals before opening new locations–- one for lunch and one for dinner-–in order to help train the team for the official opening day. Per the tradition, the College Park location opened for a preview the night before opening day.
Karley Hampton, a junior criminology and criminal justice major, was at the Gaithersburg location’s opening day in 2014, where she waited outside for over an hour with at least 100 people in front of her.
Today, she was sixth in line.
“Well, there goes all my money because I’ll probably come [here] at least twice a month,” Hampton said. “I mean, I usually go more at home. Sometimes it’s like once a week at home, so maybe upwards of [twice a month].”
Cava College Park originally planned to open in the summer but The Diamondback reported that the previous space’s tenant Radioshack had to redo their departure, delaying Cava’s debut until November.
Their new College Park location is 7350 Baltimore Ave.