Sweetgreen is a disruptor in the restaurant business with their local, organic offerings that promote healthy eating. Nathaniel Ru was an integral part of their creation during his college days at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Ru found that the old adage of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ was absolutely true. He and his friends always had trouble finding healthy places to eat that were fun and easy.
Nathaniel Ru and his two friends, then did what anyone would do in that situation. Drive thirty miles away until they found something suitable? No, of course not. They scouted for a nice location in Georgetown and persistently pursued it. It took some doing, but they finally convinced the landlord to give their fresh-produce concept a try. The restaurant they started on M Street in Georgetown has mushroomed into 64 locations at last count.
Sweetgreen can be found in many major cities and swanky neighborhoods. The concept of local, farm-fresh has taken off in a big way. The concept of Sweetgreen has been about challenging the norm. Each location is focused on serving the local community in which they reside and not some far-off corporate entity.
Their winning mindset can be termed as a win, win, win. The company, the customer, and the consumer must all derive great value from the endeavor. Sweetgreen strives to be more than just a restaurant company; they consider themselves to be a lifestyle brand.
Sustainability is also critical to the business model of Sweetgreen. It is suffused throughout the company beginning with its obvious need in the farming arena. However, they display an environmental sensitivity in all aspects of their operations.
An innovation developed by Sweetgreen was their refusal to panic when one of their new locations got off to a slow start. Instead of wringing their hands, they began playing music on outdoor speakers on weekends. This was the catalyst that they needed, an emotional connection between music and food. The customers started showing up and the idea morphed into something much bigger.
Sweetlife was the culmination of their mixing of music and food. It is now a festival which combines food and music with over 20,000 attendees. There are food vendors of the local variety and it consists of food trucks and local farmers as well. This is one fine example of how a lifestyle brand is built.
Nathaniel Ru is a graduate of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business; he holds a BS in Finance. With his two friends from Georgetown, Jonathan Neman, and Nicolas Jammet, they founded Sweetgreen and ushered in a new era in the restaurant business.
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