A dozen years ago, back in 2007, three graduates of Georgetown University in Washington, DC founded sweetgreen, a fast food operation that reflected a commitment by its three founders, Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman, to sourcing local and organic ingredients from farmers we know for sweetgreen’s fast food menu.
Six years later in 2013, the trio opened sweetgreen’s first Manhattan location, a very welcome lunch time spot for this Big Apple weekend visitor who shared a review of a delicious fast food Seasonal Salad of warm quinoa grains atop roasted cauliflower (perfectly and lightly flavored with curry), arugula, cilantro, dried cranberries, and roasted chicken. Wow.
By 2013, sweetgreen was operating fast food restaurants in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and several in its birthplace of Washington, DC. It also had plans to add four additional stores in New York City as well as adding additional restaurants in the Boston area, where it had, like in New York City in 2013, recently opened one in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.
As of the current date in late 2019, sweetgreen now operates over 100 locations including 29 in New York City (27 in Manhattan and 2 in Brooklyn), 21 in California (in the Los Angeles metro and San Francisco Bay Area), 19 in Washington, DC (where the chain first started up), 13 in Massachusetts (in the Boston metro area), 8 in northern Virginia, 5 in Pennsylvania (in the Philadelphia metro area), 5 in Illinois (in Chicagoland), 4 in Maryland (in the DC suburbs and one in Baltimore), and 1 in Houston, Texas.
The biggest indicator that sweetgreen will continue to grow in size and add to the number of its locations is a report a few years ago by William Alden in the New York Times’s Deal Book blog, Revolution Fund Invests in Sweetgreen Salad Chain, that Stephen Case had announced an investment of $22 million in the business. Mr. Case is not simply a smart investor: his financial support of sweetgreen meshed well with the Case Foundation’s focus on corporate responsibility and investing in “people and ideas that can change the world.”
And in addition to the rapidly expanding number of sweetgreen restaurants, the healthy fast food chain has successfully rolled out a delivery program called Outpost that delivers customized orders to kiosks located in corporate headquarters, WeWork locations and places like Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art and the Bloomingdales flagship department store for their employees only. An article on this creative delivery program by Alicia Kelso, Sweetgreen Pilots No-Fee Delivery Service to Corporate Offices (9/18/18) in Forbes, quoted Jonathan Neman, one of the three founders of sweetgreen and its CEO, as saying the fast food chain’s aim is to get to 100 by the end of 2018 and more than 2,000 in place by the end of 2019. Scrolling down the list of sweetgreen locations, which includes its Outposts, it seems likely that Mr. Neman’s prediction will be proven fairly accurate. Remarkable.
This impressive growth in operation is evidence that the consumer market is supportive of a fast food provider that (in the words noted in sweetgreen’s Food Ethos) in each region we source from, we demand high sustainability and animal safety standards. There can be no denying that the way sweetgreen sums up its business approach sets it far apart from any other fast food chain:
We’re always looking for ways to source smarter, to make better decisions and to help sweetgreen and its customers be a positive force in the world and on the food system. We feel a great sense of responsibility and pride to change what it means to be in the business of feeding people.
As a closing note, this sweetgreen customer would offer special praise for the quality of bread served at sweetgreen. In the New York City metro area, sweetgreen serves up delicious slices of Sullivan Street Bakery’s sour dough bread, and a recent visit to a sweetgreen location in the Bay Area of California, the sweetgreen in Berkeley offered up slices of the legendary Acme Bakery’s sour dough bread. Both bakeries are included in our directory of artisan, craft bakeries which has listings nationwide and in Canada of praiseworthy bakeries which offer baked goods and naturally leavened breads, made from scratch and hand-crafted, with the mindful sourcing of ingredients often including local grains and fruits.
(Frank W. Barrie, 11/18/19)