Investors Chow Down on Zoe's Kitchen IPO

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Zoe's Kitchen (ZOES) Thursday added its name to the list of recent restaurant initial public offerings. Its shares, priced at $15, will begin trading Friday.

The Mediterranean-style "fast casual" chain follows in the footsteps of restaurant chains such as Noodles (NDLS), and Potbelly (PBPB), which have gone public in the past year. Earlier this month, restaurant pick-up and delivery provider GrubHub (GRUB) made its trading debut.

Zoe's currently has 111 locations in 15 states, with most of its stores concentrated in the south. There 29 in Texas, 14 in Alabama, 13 in Georgia, 11 in North Carolina, seven in South Carolina and seven in Virginia. All but six of the stores are company-operated, and there are plans to open another 28 to 30 locations this year. The company also expects to double its current locations over the next four years.

Although Zoe's is relatively unknown in the Northeast, one of the chain's three Pennsylvania locations is in our town. Ironically, it replaced one of the two area Cosi (COSI) locations.

Given the focus on Mediterranean food, it was not on short list of places I wanted to try. When the restaurant opened here last year, one of our daughters became a part-time employee. In support of her new employer, I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. In fact, we've been back at least a dozen times, and will be there tonight. The grilled potato salad (you read that right) is amazing, and is now a nearly constant craving.

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