**UPDATE JULY 24th**
While attending college in Georgetown, Nathaniel Ru and his friends noticed there were not many healthy eating options available to them. With a desire to find food that was simple and healthy they began searching for a solution. The stumbled across a small 560 square foot pub space on M Street in the middle of the downtown area and the vision began to unfold.
For a month straight, Ru and his friends tried contacting the landlord of the empty pub space. They were continually rejected and hung up on. When the landlord finally agreed to a in person meeting they were underprepared. They showed up in suits and with a minuscule three page business plan. One of the pages was financials. Ru and his friends were just a few short months from graduation and the landlord saw ambition and drive to open this healthy eatery. Rather then fully rejecting them she told them to reach out to business backers and an architect and come back to her with a real plan.
It took less then a month for Ru and his friends to establish themselves with an architect and business backers. They admit that they were extremely lucky this landlord was willing to work with them. None of them had any previous restaurant experience, they simply had a vision for fun and easy food and the determination to make it accessible to the Georgetown area.
Most of the ingredients in the meals that sweetgreens produces come from local farmers. In addition to a wonderful food menu, sweetgreens has an extensive juice line and hosts a yearly music festival. Ru and his friends realized their Georgetown location was going to work when they survived their first winter break without a decrease in sales and customers. Since the opening of the Georgetown location, Sweetgreens has opened locations in Boston, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago and many other major cities across the United States. The yearly music festival that they host highlights local food trucks and farmers as well as up and coming musical talent. The second store didn’t achieve the same success as the first Georgetown location. Needing a draw in customers Ru and his friends decided to connect food and music into one fun experience. In 2009 Ru and his friends introduced the new Sweetlife music festival which drew large crowds for the music and cuisine.
If you live in the US, you have probably tried the Sweetgreen seasonal dishes and loved them. Ever since the establishment of this fast restaurant, in the year 2007, the network has been growing at a rate faster than lightning. Today, the company operates 64 outlets across the US and employees approximately 1,700 employees. As a result, so many entrepreneurs are constantly watching out for strategies executed by the company.
If you are in the food industry and are having a hard time getting your food business to pick, here are some lessons that you could take from Sweetgreen. First, is the use of technology. We live in a highly digitalized world, where one cannot afford not to have an online presence. You need to be able to tap into both the online and offline worlds. For the three co-CEOs of Sweetgreen, Jonathan Neman, Nathaniel Ru, and Nicolas Jammet both have a tech education background from Georgetown University. Therefore, they have made technology a very big part of their business. In fact, about 30%vof their business is conducted online. They have a website and a mobile app that can be used for transactions.
Great management strategies also account for a huge percentage of Sweetgreen’s success. For the management, to get as close as possible to its customers, they utilize a no-corporate headquarters policy. Therefore, the management has to move through the various outlets, fostering interactions everywhere.
Sweetgreen is such a huge success due to their sustainability policies. Their aim is not only to deliver food and make money, but to deliver good and healthy food. This is possible because they get fresh and healthy ingredients directly from the farms.
About Nathaniel Ru
Nathaniel Ru is a co-founder and co-CE0 of Sweetgreen restaurant. He has been with the company since day one of its opening, which was in the year 2007. His great entrepreneurial background, which is in fact the course he pursued in Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
When Nathaniel Ru completed his undergraduate degree, he did not go out in search for a white collar job. Instead, he combined efforts with his two college best friends and together they started the Sweetgreen restaurant. He has grown to be an inspiration to young entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas but are afraid of executing them.