Sweetgreen is an American-based fast casual restaurant chain serving simple, seasonal and healthy food. The restaurant was established in August 2007 by partners Nathaniel Ru, Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet, just three months after their graduation from Georgetown University with an undergraduate degree in business. By October 2016, the food chain had 64 stores operating in California, United States, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Columbia.
Sweetgreen has more than 1700 workers. Other than food, it has key initiatives in the lifestyle, music (sweet life festival), philanthropy and technology (sweetgreen app).
Sweetgreen’s new model for fast foods
If legacy restaurants were to start from scratch, nearly all of them would want to be like Sweetgreen. This high-end salad chain is backed by big-time investors like Danny Meyer, Daniel Boulud and Steve Case and it hits all the high notes in today’s food business- fresh, local, healthy and organic. The recipe resonates well with diners, who maintain long lines at the restaurant’s 40 locations.
As stated by the co-CEO Nathaniel Ru, the company plans to create a brand that represents something. They aspire to feed more people with better food.
Other than just food, Sweetgreen’s co-CEOs have a lot to teach traditional chains. The three classmates have been tech frontiers, and thirty percent of the transactions are made through the restaurant’s website or its mobile app. According to Ru, technology has always been in the Georgetown University graduates’ DNA.
Their management strategies
The Sweetgreen partners are rethinking their management strategies. In order to stay closer to its customers, the company shuts down almost the entire corporate office five times a year to allow everyone a chance to work in its restaurants. Sweetgreen has recently opened a branch in Los Angeles, operating without a major headquarters. Ru says that as much as they wanted to decentralize their headcount, they don’t believe in big offices.
While studying their undergraduate degree, Sweetgreen co-founders realized that Georgetown region had limited healthy eating options. They focused on that realization when they started their first restaurant. The three told the Fortune that they knew their business would survive when they managed through to their first winter break after all the students went on vacation.
When asked what advice he would give to his 20-year-old self, Nathaniel Ru says that he would tell himself to read more books. On the most difficult thing about managing, Ru says they used to do everything in the company. He advises that it is good to have a team around you so that you can delegate some duties.