Does a trendy salad bar sound like the most commonly appealing dining option for college kids hustling around campus? Probably not, right? Well, that has not been the case for the team at Sweetgreens.
Founded by Nathaniel Ru, Nicolas Jammet and Jonathan Neman the company has rapidly been growing into one of the most surprisingly young food chains within the industry. Established in 2007, Ru and his team have helped to grow Sweetgreen into a little juggernaut that has over 40 locations in the United States. Ru recently opened up offices in Los Angeles which means that more may be coming right around the corner.
The success of Sweetgreen isn’t just about the delicious, locally sourced and organic ingredients in the different menu items. The success of Sweetgreen is also about the work of Nathaniel Ru and his partners. The team of founders created Sweetgreen after coming up with the idea at an entrepreneurship class that they were all taking together at Georgetown University.
Sweetgreen would be a concept that they all poured passion into and by the time that they had graduated they would be ready to go live with the concept. Let’s learn a little bit from Nathaniel Ru regarding the growth of the company in the ten years since they were first opening their doors.
Nathaniel Ru is introspective enough to know that he doesn’t know all of the answers. When pondering how he would change things by going back to the launch of his company he says, “We’ve learned it’s important to build a team around you sooner than you feel comfortable doing so.”
The truth is that Jonathan, Nicolas and Nathaniel created the company with the intention of running every inch of the business. They wanted to be leaders in every single facet, a departure from many common management techniques around the industry. Ru says, “Jon, Nic and I used to do every role in the company.”
With 40 stores already on the market, Nathaniel Ru knows that they have to be careful how they approach further expansion. Ru says, “How we enter a market is just as important as how many stores we do.”
This is why Ru and his team have been so careful about where they put their stores. They focus on neighborhoods that may not traditionally have much dining but always have good foot traffic such as the various tech areas that dot many big cities.