How Sweetgreen Grew from a Single Restaurant in Washington DC into a National Brand

Sweetgreen is a successful high-end salad chain started by Nathaniel Ru and two other friends in 2007. Today, the success of Sweetgreen has attracted the backing of investors like Danny Meyer, Daniel Boulud, and Steve Case. The high level of investor confidence shows that the chain restaurants are doing something right.


Sweetgreen serves its customers with healthy food that is fresh, local, and organic. This has endeared many customers to the restaurants resulting in its expansion to 40 locations nationally. Co-CEO Nathaniel Ru said that Sweetgreen wants to create a huge brand that is original and stands for something. The aim is to feed people better food.


The Business Side of Sweetgreen


Sweetgreen’s secret to success does not only lie in the quality food it offers customers. Sound management strategies made by its three co-CEOs has also helped grow the restaurants into a national brand. The company incorporated technology into their management and daily operations quite early. As a result, today, over 30 percent of its transactions are completed through its mobile app or website.


Furthermore, Sweetgreen values all its customers and the local community in which it operates. Therefore, at least five times in every financial year, the company’s corporate office is shut down and all management staff works in their respective local restaurants. This has allowed management to interact with its customers and employees, which has resulted in improved service delivery.


Sweetgreen operates without a national headquarters. Instead, the company’s management is bicoastal with the three co-CEOs each located in different locations. Ru said that the reason the company took this step was that it wanted to decentralize its headcount. He believes in building a competent management team and delegating work.


Ru also believes in reading books to enrich his knowledge and looks up to Kevin Plank from Under Armour. His favorite restaurants besides Sweetgreen is Little Serow owned by Johnny Monis because of its Thai delicacies.


Nathaniel Ru


Nathaniel Ru is one of three co-founders of Sweetgreen, a national chain of restaurants. Ru and his fellow business partners namely Nicolas Jammet and Jonathan Neman, met in college while they were studying at Georgetown University. The three friends had trouble finding places that served healthy food. Consequently, they opened their first restaurant in Washington DC’s downtown area that eventually blossomed into 40 locations. Apart from his involvement in the management of Sweetgreen, Ru is an active investor who has vested interests in four other companies.


Follow Nathaniel Ru on twitter.