A new paradigm for fast food has come into existence. The salad chain known as Sweetgreen is at the forefront of healthy, fast food. They focus first on healthy foods such as a multitude of salad greens, vegetables and anything else loaded with antioxidants. The foods are fresh, organically grown and from the surrounding areas. They’ve been an absolute hit with patrons as long lines reveal their popularity and winning business model. There are more than 60 restaurants largely on the East Coast and in California.
Nathaniel Ru is a co-CEO who helped develop their founding vision. He’s convinced that they’ve created a unique brand with good principles. Tasty, healthy food for more people. Ru and his co-CEO’s Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet were all students together at Georgetown University. Noting a dearth of healthy food options locally, they were inspired to change that with the launching of their first Sweetgreen location. They fully realized their success when they survived the emptying of Georgetown University as a result of winter break.
The innovation of Sweetgreen doesn’t stop with food. They’re tech savvy with around 30% of purchases made from their website or mobile app. They shut down their corporate offices so that personnel can work in the retail locations, which is another unique aspect of their business model. They do this five times per year, which helps keep them dialed into the pulse of their customer base. They also lack a main corporate headquarters preferring to spread their leadership geographically. This helps reduce the sort of stagnation which can result in a stodgy corporate environment, which is isolated from their customers.
How Sweetgreen enters a new market is important according to Ru. They’re avoiding more typical locations where fast-casual establishments are clustered. Instead, they’re going after more upscale locations. This sets them apart from others and helps them stay busy beyond the lunch crowd. Dinners and weekends are now in play.
The restaurants feature an open kitchen so patrons can see exactly how their meals come together. Each morning fresh produce is delivered and everything is made from scratch. Customers may wait in line for around 15 minutes and then order from rows of fresh ingredients. A Sweetgreen team member then works one on one with customers to ensure accuracy.
Nathaniel Ru also relates how important it is to meet with local farmers. Here they ascertain whether or not a durable supply chain can be created to meet the needs of a new Sweetgreen location. They also use whatever vegetables farmers are growing instead of requesting certain ones. This helps ensure a menu which is varied and particular to each locality. Sweetgreen is certainly in the vanguard of healthy fast-casual.