Sweetgreen is not a typical fast food restaurant. The chain, founded by Georgetown University graduate Nathaniel Ru, focuses on simplicity and making positive impacts on local communities. Their model has worked, growing them from a single restaurant in Washington D.C. to over 40 locations nationwide. In a recent interview with Fortune, Ru said they are “creating a brand that stands for something.” Learn more: http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ekeg45fe/nicolas-jammet-nathaniel-ru-jonathan-neman-co-founders-sweetgreen-262627/
The idea started at Georgetown, when Ru and his classmates Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet wanted a healthy dining option that would also be convenient. The first Sweetgreen opened in August 2007 and has been growing strong ever since. Ru, who graduated with a degree in Finance, believes in staying grounded. In an interview with the University of Pennsylvania, he describes how they got their first location with only three pages of a business plan. He also says it was the only time he wore a suit to a meeting. Learn more: http://www.businessinsider.com/sweetgreen-founder-interview-nathaniel-ru-2016-3
“Keeping it real,” is one of the company’s five core values. They operate without a head office, and shut down the ones they do have several times a year. According to Theresa Dold, their Director of Digital Marketing, “People do not buy what you do. They buy the way that you do it.” They call this their Sweettouch. The strategy promotes employees opening the door for customers, giving them umbrellas in the rain and walking them through the ordering process. Each Sweetgreen restaurant also sources produce locally, varying their menu depending on what farmers are already growing. They also use a different architectural design for every store, blending them seamlessly into communities. Learn more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweetgreen
Sweetgreen also integrates modern technology and trends into their business model. Their app gives customers the ability to personalize orders with clear photographs of the available ingredients. Once ready, they can pick up their meal from a separate line in the store. The app accounts for over 30% of their business. The company also hosts what they call Sweetlife, a music and food festival with over 20,000 visitors each year. Sweetlife connects communities with local farmers, chefs and emerging musicians to promote healthier lifestyles.
Nathaniel Ru believes Sweetgreen succeeds because it not only connects with communities, but also because it provides an excellent experience to customers. As he describes it, “Yes, you always want to market to your tribe. We serve wraps and yogurt, but really we leave people better off in several ways.”