Long House Studio

The Sweetgreen dream team

Fast food chains are not always the first thing that comes to mind when trying to eat healthily. In fact, most of us dream to have a restaurant that is convenient as a fast food chain with the added benefit of not clotting our arteries with fat. Sweetgreen’s is here to the rescue, with its yummy salad recipes and quick service.

But how can Sweetgreen compete with the established major chains? Answer: With an unconventional business model.

Cofounder Nathaniel Ru majored in Business at Georgetown University. While in accounting class, Nathaniel bonded with his classmates who shared his passion for entrepreneurship. It was then, when Nathanial and his former Georgetown University peers, set out with a goal to make healthy food more accessible to those in a hurry.

Setting their location in the collegiate dense part of Georgetown, the founders had managed to survive the winter, a time when the town empties as students leave for winter break. From the time they set their first location in Georgetown, the company has successfully grown to 27 locations across six states. Read more: Sweetgreen Entreprenuers | Fortune and  Nathaniel Ru | Crunchbase

From the beginning, these founders knew that healthy fast food is a niche that needs a sound strategy to pull off effectively. Fast food is a niche that requires extensive planning since the resources available at each region would differ in supply and demand.

So, the team had to take unconventional routes. For instance, to help them focus on the customer’s needs, the founders decided that there will be no centralized headquarters for the company.

Not having a static headquarters, the company founders are able to occupy their time at the restaurant’s locations to gauge what the consumer would really want from their experience. From their feedback, they learned that the customer just wanted the freshest ingredients at the lowest prices. Learn more about Nathaniel Ru: http://observer.com/2016/04/jobs-report-sweetgreen-co-founder-jonathan-neman-lives-the-sweet-life/

So, the team optimized their menu items to fit what was locally available near the restaurant. Since the menu is different for each location, this gives every Sweetgreen the opportunity to take advantage of the supply and demand conundrum.

Although their menu might not be consistent, their values of leaving the customer with a memorable experience are.