Category: Eating Healthy

How Sweetgreen Is Changing Fast Food

A Menu For Our Health

The popular image of fast food portrays the typical fast food meal as a greasy salty mess. Entrepreneur Nathaniel Ru wants to do away with that popular image and offer customers something more wholesome to enjoy. Focused firmly on healthy green food, Sweetgreen is a fast food chain specializing in salads. Although there are precedents to healthful options in fast food, Sweetgreen stands as a rare example of a startup going all in for health.



The Millennial Age Is Here

The idea to create a restaurant focused solely on providing healthy food is a risky one, but it reflects the Millennial spirit Nathaniel Ru so strongly believes in. Millennials want the convenience of fast food, but they don’t want the calories and regret that often characterize it. Additionally, Millennials are a socially conscious generation with a strong belief in civic participation. To express this value Sweetgreen uses the Sweetlife music festival to give customers a chance to enjoy their favorite music and take up important causes. Sometimes, giving a hand to others in need is good for business.



Technology Is Our Friend

The Millennial demographic Nathaniel Ru is targeting has grown up with technology and considers it an important part of their lives. When they want fast food they have a completely different image of what fast means. Recently restaurants have started implementing ways for customers to pay for food with their phones. Sweetgreen is no exception to that trend and customers are able to order anything they want through the restaurant’s official app. In fact, more than 30% of all orders are placed through the Sweetgreen app. This company truly reflects the spirit of our times and reflects where America is headed.



A Mission To Achieve

While Sweetgreen is an amazing success financially, Ru did not create Sweetgreen simply to make himself rich. Currently, our country is facing a serious health epidemic. High fructose corn syrup and salt are leading our nation down the wrong path. Nathaniel Ru wants to change the way we eat by changing the way we think of fast food. If people can realize health options as fast food, there is hope to change things. It may start with this salad franchise, but the potential goes well beyond him. Nathaniel Ru is starting a big revolution in the world of fast food.


Overview of Interview with Nathaniel Ru of Sweetgreen

Sweetgreen has been opening up its food stores in a number of strategic areas in various cities across the US. Its magic is the healthy food it offers that is both reasonably priced and tasty. The Sweetgreen salad is great as you do not go hungry after 45 minutes like the ordinary salads. Sweetgreen started off in 2007 in Washington, DC and has expanded to around 40 sites in California and New York with shops expected in Chicago and Boston. In an interview with Nathaniel Ru, Fortune understood how Sweetgreen sources for its food, its service design crafting and why people should eat more than just kales.



Clever Way of Picking its Locations


Ru stated that Sweetgreen’s sequencing and store openings timing is part of its huge real estate strategy. The way the company enters a market is important as the number of stores they open. The chain chooses areas that are free from the usual casual chains and areas where new media and tech companies are located. The chain has opened its stores in the hip and affluent neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Nolita and Tribeca. The chain goes beyond pure convenience as it targets not only the lunch traffic but also weekends and dinners.



Service Design and Source of Foods


Nathaniel Ru refers to Sweetgreen’s service design as a culmination of technology, storytelling and design. It elevates the simple selling of a product to a consistent and personalized service to every customer. Sweetgreen is a restaurant that customers can rely on when they are ordering via the app (30% of customers use this method) or in-store. Customers are able to see the open kitchen and Ru explains that when they see the ingredients and the process behind every meal is important to the chain as they do not have to explain how they do their salads. The ordering process is one-on-one and although it takes about 15 minutes, it is very accurate. Sweetgreen enquires from farmers on the available crops rather than requesting for a particular crop. This cuts down on waste and exposes the customers to a new veggie they would not have tried.



About Nathaniel Ru


Sweetgreen co-founder Nathaniel Ru graduated from Georgetown University with BS Finance in 2007 (McDonough School of Business). This was the year that the three co-founders started working on their idea to make it a business venture. They aimed at creating a casual and seasonal kitchen based on sustainability and local sourcing. The first branch was opened in Georgetown and the chain has so far grown to about 40 outlets.