Sweetgreen goes for more growth

The seemingly neverending appetite for healthier food sees farm-to-table restaurant chain aim for 100 stores across the US

Counting 58 stores at the time of writing and with another five slated to open soon, the healthy fast food chain has come a long way since launch in 2007 soon after the three founders graduated from Georgetown University. Next year they will continue the impressive growth as they aim to reach 100 restaurants across eight cities.

The philosophy behind Sweetgreen is familiar – fresh, local, seasonal and sustainable food – yet Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru seem to have gone further in their quest to offer genuinely local and seasonal produce.

Each of the Sweetgreen stores serves a menu based on seasonal ingredients and depending on the location the menu changes. Whatever is good and fresh at one of the partner farms will make it in to the Sweetgreen store. The menu of salad and grain-based bowls changes several times each year.

The strict commitment to this ethos presents more challenges to the founders than other fast food restaurants might experience. Before they can contemplate opening a new location they need to do more than scout the real estate market for an appropriate retail space. They need to ensure that there are farms in the region, willing to commit to the farming methods they require and capable of fulfilling demand.

The founders have previously spoken about the importance of the relationship between customers and the origins of their food. They understand the transparency of provenance is important to their customers.

It is a sentiment that chimes with John Turenne FCSI. He predicts that the popularity of so-called clean food is only set to rise further. “The demand for food that has less negative impact on the world around us and on our own bodies will continue to be a focus,” he says. “Younger consumers are asking a lot more questions about the environment and how we as humans are impacting it. Food production has a tremendous effect on such and people are continuing to ask questions at a faster rate.”

Other building blocks of this healthy eating empire include the Sweetlife music festival and the Sweetgreen in schools programme, which with local partners to provide nutrition education and access to healthy food for kids.

Tina Nielsen