Nathaniel Ru must be doing something right at Sweetgreen, because he has been leading the company as it consistently keeps the lines long at the 40 locations. Not only that, but some of the most renowned investors in the game that is fast food have offered up their chips which is a sign that there is a lot of belief in the franchise. Steve Case, Danny Meyer, and Daniel Boulud all believe in the high-end salads which are changing the landscape and shifting the fast food model into a new shape.
Sweetgreen is trying to keep everything healthy and organic by sourcing products that are grown locally and fresh. Nathaniel Ru has stated that one of the primary aims is to keep better food going out to more consumers, and in doing so this produces a company name that stands for something. Sweetgreen is the alternative to the fattening and troublesome lineups that so many of today’s fast food chains have splattered all across their menus. There is a new place to go that will not ruin a diet.
The health factor is not the only difference that is setting Sweetgreen apart either. They are pushing the boundaries of online ordering and mobile apps for fast food businesses, and this has meant that over 30% of their transactions are done from the new technology initiatives. Management is more hands-on, and the company does not use a main headquarters which can so often create a hard divide between management and the employees in the stores. About five times per years the corporate offices are shut down so that everyone gets a chance to try their hand in the stores pushing salad. That is a technique which spurs innovation, and so many in the fast food business might do well to take a page out of that playbook.
It looks like Nathaniel Ru is another star coming out of the Georgetown University curriculum. He opened the first restaurant about seven years ago after graduating from the program, and Sweetgreen has not looked back since. The motivation and dedication of himself and a couple co-CEOs (Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet) has gotten them this far, and it does not appear that there is going to be any turning back now. The only question is whether the competition will continue to tweak their offerings so that more people can stay healthy without too much effort.
Follow Nathaniel Ru on twitter @nathanielru.