The Sweetgreen experience isn’t anything you can tangibly nail down. What it is, however, is the entire aura permeating one of the hottest high end salad chains in the northeast. Sweetgreen was founded in 2007 by Nathaniel Ru and two of his fellow students at Georgetown University.
The trio of co-founders dreamed of a new restaurant chain that offered customers a complete experience to go along with their high quality food. Nathaniel Ru, easily the most accessible of the bunch, sat down to explain what brought Sweetgreen to life as well as what they are aiming to do in the future to incorporate the Sweetgreen experience into as many places as possible.
So to understand the Sweetgreen experience you need to understand their goals upon inception. Jonathan Nema, Nicolas Jammet and Nathaniel Ru were taking a class on business at Georgetown University when they started to come up with an idea for a company that would give back to the community as much as it would improve the quality of food being vended in the fast food arena. Learn more about Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin: http://fortune.com/2016/02/18/sweetgreen-entrepreneurs/
After deliberation the team ended up settling on what would eventually become Sweetgreen. They wanted to focus on pulling together high end ingredients from locally sourced farms. They also wanted to focus on putting together meals that left customers full without need to max out on another order. The goal was always to be healthy, to offer great food, and to make Sweetgreen part of the landscape.
Nathaniel Ru says that he and his co-founders modeled their company after the work being done at Apple. Ru says, “We’re creating a brand that stands for something.” Ru goes on to say that he admires the CEO at Under Armour, Kevin Plank, for the work he has done pushing Under Armour past being just another clothing brand. Ru says of Kevin Plank, “I look up to Kevin Plank and what he’s done with Under Armour – it’s a company that stands for something bigger than itself.”
When Ru was first dreaming up Sweetgreen with his companions he settled on the salad idea for a simple reason: Georgetown University didn’t have many healthy dining options on campus.
This brought them to establishing their first Sweetgreen location on campus which was, admittedly, a risky proposition. However, the defining moment of the company came when they survived their first winter without students on campus. From there on up it was easy sledding and now more than 40 Sweetgreen locations dot the United States.