The story of Sweetgreen begins with Nathaniel Ru and his friends having trouble finding healthy places to eat while in college. In addition to healthy they were looking for restaurants that were “fun and easy”. To this end they took particular interest in a nearby tavern which they transformed into the founding location of the Sweetgreen chain of restaurants.
Six years later, they had rebuilt the tavern, located in Washington D.C., into a 21-store-farm-to-table restaurant. The landlord of the building that the tavern was located in had doubts about their plans, but eventually they were able to convince her to lease the location to them. From that one location Sweetgreen has now expanded to restaurants across the nation including the states of New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and the greater Washington D.C. area.
The food that the company uses mostly comes from local farmers around each restaurant location. In addition to offering food, Sweetgreen’s Head of Digital Marketing Theresa Dold has stated that the company was started with a “deeper purpose”. This purpose was for Sweetgreen to answer the question of “why”. She went on to say that they want to be local, smart, sexy, and social and by the way we sell a great line of juices and have a music festival every year.
Nathaniel Ru has stated that every restaurant they open has to live up to their five core values which includes serving the local community around it. The core values include “win, win, win” where everyone has a stake, sustainability, “keeping it real” where everything is authentic, “sweet” which means creating meaningful connections between farmers, Sweetgreen, and customers, and making a positive impact.
As the company wants to connect food and music, they came up with a food & musical festival that they called Sweetlife. Sweetlife has evolved into the areas largest music and food festival, with as many as 20,000 attendees.
Ru graduated with a degree in Finance at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business in 2007. He and two other co-Founded Sweetgreen, and he serves as one of the company’s Co-Chief Executive Officer’s. Ru has stated the the signature moment of Sweetgreen came about when they opened a location in Dupont Circle near Washington D.C. and no one showed up for the first two weeks of business. He and the others came up with the idea of playing music outside the store on the weekends which finally garnered the customers they needed.