Nathaniel Ru graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in 2007. Soon after his graduation, he and two of his friends who had graduated from the same university co-founded Sweetgreen. Today, Sweetgreen is in 40 locations spread over various states.
The Inception of Sweetgreen
While studying at Georgetown University, Nathaniel Ru and some of his friends could not find food joints that offered healthy recipes in a fun and easy way. At semester to graduation, their urge to establish an eatery which integrated these aspects was so overwhelming that they began looking for business premises.
They started an eatery in a tavern on M street and named it sweetgreen. Today, sweetgreen has become a chain of restaurants with stores in the major cities and the suburbs of the Northeast such as New York, Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia. The restaurant provides healthy food, sourcing ingredients from local farmers and suppliers.
According to Theresa Dold, the head of digital marketing, sweetgreen’s marketing is social, smart and local. Nathaniel Ru adds that each of their stores has to uphold the company’s core values, and has to serve the society around.
The Core Values
Their first value is a win for all. The partners make business decisions which benefit the company, their customers, and the community. Second, they believe in sustainability. Therefore, they make long term resolutions.
The third principle is that of keeping it real. Everything has to be authentic, from the ingredients sources to the performance of the employees.
The fourth value is adding sweetness. Surpassing customer expectations means retaining clients and attracting new ones. Lastly, sweetgreen has to make an impact, and they work hard every day to achieve this.
Connecting With the Community
Sweetgreen has a clever way of connecting food to music. During their first two weeks at Dupont Circle, Washington, they could not get any customers. They bought some speakers, put them at the entrance, and played music every weekend. The music won the company new clients. Sweetgreen sponsors sweetlife, a music and food festival which attracts over 20,000 people including food purveyors.
Apart from paying with cash or credit cards, sweetgreen has an app which earns points when clients use it to pay. After spending $100, the company contributes a certain percentage to sweetgreen in school. This program teaches disadvantaged students about healthy eating habits.
Sweetgreen hires the best and encourages teamwork. They often reward their employees as a way of motivating them. For instance, they organized a wedding party for two employees who were engaged.
They also work in close collaboration with gyms and yoga clubs, where they refer potential clients to each other.