Reinventing the food industry isn’t an easy thing to do. It takes years of persuading and social change to bring about any real changes. The easiest thing to do is open a new style of restaurant that shows diners what the food industry could do. Since companies follow the demands of their customers, restaurants would change overnight.
That’s the kind of restaurant that Sweetgreen is. With 40 locations nationwide, the high-end salad chain is changing the way people look at legacy restaurants. Sweetgreen was even one of the first restaurants to use a website and mobile app to facilitate transactions.
Sweetgreen’s co-founders didn’t want the brand run like a big corporation. As part of the new generation of entrepreneurs, they thought of corporate headquarters as more harmful than helpful. Instead, they operate by flying back and forth to each main office. That’s why they maintain a personal connection with customers while still growing the business.
The co-founders Nathaniel Ru, Jonathan Neman, and Nicolas Jammet met at Georgetown University. Their interests in owning their business came from their parents, who owned their businesses. All three’s parents are also first-generation immigrants, which is another reason the trio clicked. Read more: Sweetgreen Founder Interview – Nathaniel Ru | Business Insider and Nathaniel Ru Blazes a Trail in The Height Food Industry | Affiliate Dork
Since the national success of their restaurant chain, the co-founders have done countless interviews. Mostly, Ru’s done all the talking because he’s the most articulate. In an interview with Fortune, he talked about the first time they experienced doubt about the restaurant.
They opened the first restaurant in Georgetown so that the students could have somewhere healthy to eat. Much of their business relied on students near the campus. During winter break, most of the students are away on vacation or just nothing eating out as much. For a long time, business got slow, but they kept hope and survived the break.
Now that business is booming, they’re putting a lot more thought into opening more locations. Most big restaurant chains just open stores where there’s a lot of foot traffic. Sweetgreen wanted to be different and open locations in affluent and popular neighborhoods. It’s not about getting diners during lunch.
There’s a lot of planning that goes into opening just one Sweetgreen. The location itself is an obvious factor, but something like the timing of the store’s opening is another key factor.
Learn more about Nathaniel Ru: