To look at the immensely popular and successful salad chain, Sweetgreens one might very well pause and ask themselves how on earth a restaurant that serves absolutely nothing but salads and fruit beverages could possibly have picked up so much steam.
The answer to this question is to be found in the philosophy of its founders, Nathaniel Ru, Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet, who had taken their brand in a decidedly peculiar direction.
Whereas most food chains focused on creating a catching jingle, a memorable mascot and getting the cheapest food products possible, Jammet, Neman and Ru decided to forgo the jingle and mascot and instead opt for direct store-to-farm produce acquisition. Instead of buying frozen produce and shipping it in through various mediators they decided to focus on improving the local small farm businesses by buying direct from Washington area farmers.
Not only did this move greatly benefit the local community via bolstering the financial health, stability and reputation of various local farms and farmers – thus, indirectly increasing interest and respect from the community at large – the move also cut out the middle-man and allowed the company to grow as a horizontally integrated entity.
In addition to Nathaniel Ru, Neman and Jammet’s peculiar marketing strategies was the idea to design, organize, book and host a music and produce festival called Sweetlife, sponsored, of course, by Sweetgreen. The Sweetlife festivals, the first of which took palce as early as 2011, functioned as a sort of fusion between the seemingly disparate worlds of music, healthy eating and communal festivity.
Though initially unsuccessful due their seeming strangeness, Nathaniel Ru persisted in holding the events in tandem with the growth of his and his partner’s company and soon Sweetlife was a smash hit success that was able to host the likes of such well known musical sensations as Kendrick Lamar, the ethereal and retro electronica artist Grimes and Blondie.
In this fashion of fusing local, organic, healthy produce, music, festival and slick, crisp and aesthetically appealing restaurant chains, Sweetgreen was able to become much more than just another trendy eatery; it became a lifestyle sensation.
One which continues to attract a great deal of attention to this day and looks as if it is poised for even larger leaps and bounds in the fast-paced world of the American food industry.
Learn more about Nathaniel Ru: