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.