The Humble Beginnings of Sweetgreen and Its Achievements So Far

In March 2014, Wharton University published an article detailing crucial information about the establishment and operations of Sweetgreen. The company details were as extracted from the speeches of Nathaniel Ru and Theresa Dold who were in attendance at the Wharton Marketing conference around that time.

 

According to Nathaniel Ru, the idea of Sweetgreen, was born out of the need to access a fun and easy, yet healthy place to eat out. Ru and the fellow co-founders were in their final year at Georgetown University in Washington and always had difficulties finding a fun place to eat healthy meals. They would always wonder if the solution to their problem lay in a 560 square foot tavern M Street at the heart of the downtown area. Surprisingly, the idea came to live six years later.

 

When they first shared the idea with the landlady of the tavern, she did not buy into it. What followed was a whole month of daily calls from the three senior students of Georgetown University trying to convince the landlady that their idea was worthwhile. They would call the lady, in turn, every day for a month until she agreed to meet them in person. Perhaps, the persistence portrayed here is one of the things that has contributed to the current growth and expansion that Sweetgreen has experienced since then,

 

The head of digital marketing, Theresa Dold, who also graduated from Georgetown University, explained that Sweetgreen is more than just a salad bar. She said that the fast salad chain markets itself not just as a place to buy food, but rather as a “why” company. It was created with a deeper purpose – to impact the lives of its customers positively. The primary purpose of the restaurant also drives its marketing approach. Dold said that the chain aims at becoming a mix of social, smart, sexy, and local. Sweetgreen has an amazing line of juices and a music festival every year.

 

As explained by Ru, the company works hard to make sure that all the stores of Sweetgreen live up to its core values. The five core values are (1) Win, win, win; (2) thinking sustainably; (3) Keeping it real; (4) A touch of sweetness and (5) Making an impact.

 

The restaurant also markets itself as a lifestyle brand. Apart from the music food festival, the company also partners with other players in the healthy lifestyle industry. For example, they hold yoga classes in restaurants. They also hold promotional activities for gyms and fitness clubs where they refer their customers to instructors, who might also refer their customers to Sweetgreen.

 

About Nathaniel Ru

He graduated with a bachelor of science in finance. Together with his two other friends from the University, they co-founded Sweetgreen in 2007, where he serves as a co-chief executive officer. Apart from Sweetgreen, Ru has substantial investments in four other companies namely LOLA, Bond Street, EatPops, and MeUndies. He is also the principal of sweetlife ventures, an annual music and food festival that attracts 20000 attendees. The festival is built around the importance of good living and health of the community, as well as sustainability.

Nathaniel Ru – article recap

Sweetgreen is a popular fast-casual restaurant that caters to urban professionals, and is clustered in the chic enclaves within New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Boston, and California, (primarily in Silicon Valley). The chain, which has become a leader in sustainability and local food sourcing, was founded by Nathaniel Ru, a 2007 graduate of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, along with two fellow alumni. Ru, along with Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet, continue to lead the ever-growing company. The trio is based in Washington, DC but maintain homes in New York City’s Soho neighborhood, and Los Angeles.

 

Mr. Ru, and his partners, started the chain in Washington, DC, not far from Georgetown University, where they met, and centered the restaurant’s offerings around local, sustainable ingredients, with an overall theme of eco-consciousness. Mr Ru explains that a visit to local farmers comes first when sweetgreen is considering a move into a new market area. Supply chain and product availability drive their decision making processes, and relationships with their providers is key to the success of the chain.

 

Sustainability, locally sourced ingredients, and a strong sense of community are the driving factors of Sweetgreen, and many attribute their continued growth and success to these principals. The three founders strongly believe that it is important to offer a dining option that fits its clients’ belief systems, both as a restaurant and as a member of the larger community.

 

In addition to their continued growth and guidance of sweetgreen, the three partners have also ventured into the music and food festival arena. With sweetlife, Ru, Neman, and Jammet, have created an event that is a celebration of great music and good food. Started in 2010, the festival continues to draw enormous crowds, while celebrating sustainable lifestyles and food options, all with a carbon-neutral footprint!

 

Nathaniel Ru is a prime example of a successful entrepreneur who looks at the big picture. Ru’s passion for ecologically sound business practices truly sets him apart, and Georgetown University alumni have a great example of success, whose attitude is worth emulating. As the Millennial generation comes into its own, new paradigms will come to the forefront and take precedence over the old ways of doing business. Nathaniel Ru is the embodiment of the ecologically and socially responsible business owner who is mindful of the impact, both positive and negative, that his business dealings have on the world.

 

Introducing Sweetgreen’s Model of Fast Food

Sweetgreen’s new model of fast food service ticks all boxes of excellence in the modern food industry- organic, fresh, local and healthy. Customers have come to like the salad recipes at all 40 locations of the restaurant chain. One of the founders, Nathaniel Ru says that the restaurant’s biggest objective is to feed more people with healthy food.

 

Among things that traditional food stores could learn from Sweetgreen is perhaps its deployment of technology. As of February 2016, 30% of the restaurant’s transactions were being made via its mobile app and website. Ru maintains that technology has always been a part of their DNA.

 

Nathaniel Ru established Sweetgreen in August 2007 together with co-CEOs Nicholas Jammet and Jonathan Neman. All three are children of entrepreneurs and say that their idea was informed by the need to create more and better food options for residents of Georgetown. It looks like the entire country may as well benefit from their healthy green and salad preparations.

 

The three met at Georgetown University where they had been studying entrepreneurship. Three years after graduating, the restaurant’s first location was born in Georgetown. The outfit has attracted notable investors among them Danny Meyer and Steve Case. By October 2016, the trio had opened 63 more stores across the United States.

 

Nathaniel Ru was recently interviewed by the Fortune Magazine. He brags that his outfit stands for something- providing various nutritious options of salads. Ru states that management is not easy but can be lighter when there is a team of like-minded individuals at the helm. He advises youngsters to read more books.

 

Apart from technological expertise, the restaurant owners aim at connecting with customers. In fact, Sweetgreen has no headquarters. Instead, there are mere offices at each restaurant. The owners close their offices and work at the chains to communicate, serve and engage with customers.

 

There is a hip and modern company culture at Sweetgreen. Managers are referred to as coaches while other employees are called team members. Managers and CEOs personally visit farmers to ensure high-quality production of salads at the farms.

 

The co-founders say that they sell not just salad and lettuce, but a brand and a lifestyle. The fact that the founders and employees are disciplined makes the restaurant trend-setting.

 

The combination of healthy fresh food and intuitive technology in ordering makes the restaurant outstanding. In future, it hopes to open more branches across the country and spread its popular vibe.

Nathaniel Ru and Friends Influencing Healthy and Sustainable Living

If you school in Georgetown, then you must know Sweetgreen either as quick lunch fix or a post-gym bite. A few years ago, only the founders Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru, and Jonathan Neman knew about its existence. The trio, while in their senior year in college, started discussing the limited alternatives there is for healthy and affordable feeding in the town. Loaded with only a business plan and no experience, the three friends began the journey to what we now know as Sweetgreen.

 

The journey opened an avenue for them to learn at every step and although the original location was only 500 square feet, it pushed them to rethink their strategy. Their commitment y was to create something sustainable with all healthy ingredients and benefits. Ru, Jammet, and Neman counted on the advice they received from architects, restaurant owners, and the Georgetown community.

 

Over time, they have learned why value-driven business is important and understood the impact of the community on a brand. Such are the values they continue to incorporate in their company, and this saw them launch a Sweetgreen in School program. The aim is to educate learners on the benefits of nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Since its inception in 2010, it has attracted over twenty thousand participants.

 

Change of Strategy

Sweetgreen’s second location started crumbling and forced the founders to change tact. They added music to their cart; hence, Sweetlife was born. Sweetlife is an annual food festival that attracts party lovers to gather with purpose. The idea is well-received by the local community and continues to evolve by the day as it encourages people to lead healthy lives.

 

About Nathaniel Ru

Nathaniel Ru is among the co-founders of Sweetgreen, a green living restaurant based in Georgetown. Ru is a graduate of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He graduated in 2007 with a BS in Finance. The same year, he partnered with two of his friends and established Sweetgreen. The primary role of this green kitchen is to offer sustainable and local sourcing for healthy snacks. What guides this company is the desire to remain deeply rooted in its core values to create a lasting impact on the community.

 

What the Future Holds

The trio has tried in all ways to provide educational programs and access to healthy culinary options. With the dedication these three have shown over the thirteen years they have been around, the future looks bright and promising. So far they have managed to improve the quality of healthy feeding options on campus. Their hope is that the community will continue to build upon the progress they have made and invest in alternative eating. Also, the student and college management should gain knowledge and begin to understand the importance of eating and living healthy.