Nathaniel Ru on Sweet Success with Sweetgreen

Nathaniel Ru, co-founder of Sweetgreens, wants to feed his customers more than just high quality greens. He wants his food to stand for a way of life. This high end salad food chain has cooked up the right recipe, because the lines stay long at the 40 plus stores. Nathaniel Ru, Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet have taken their education and their family background to help find their success in the food chain industry. All three co-CEOs come from families that have started their own business. In 2007, the classmates felt that Georgetown lacked options for healthy fast food, and they devised their own business. After the first winter, when the college town emptied, and they survived, they knew they have a potential successful venture on their hands.


The co-Ceos and Georgetown University classmates have figured out the right business model for their success. About 30% of the transactions for Sweetgreen are made through their app. Another unique grassroots strategy is that the corporate office shuts down about five times per year for everyone to work in the local stores. The management team needs to stay close to their customer base. The company currently operates with a main headquarters, but they hold offices on both coasts.


Nathaniel Ru has learned some lessons in his successful business, Sweetgreens. Next time, he will build a team sooner than he wants to. The three CEOs used to do every role in the company, but they learned a team is far more effective. The successful restaurant does not want to lose sight of their mission.


In 2007, Sweetgreen opened to serve their customers simple and healthy food. Currently, the chain has 64 stores with 1,700 employees. The chain serves a regional menu based on the seasonal, local vegetables. They hold the Sweetlife Festival where they celebrate food, music, and community. Artists that have played in the festival include Kendrick Lamar and the Weeknd. As Sweetgreen continues to grow, the co-CEOs stress that each store must serve to better the local community, not just the corporate mission. This goal is why Sweetgreen strives to work with local farmers to find the freshest, organic produce available.

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