Sweetgreen is an American fast casual restaurant chain that serves "simple, seasonal, healthy food". It was founded in August 2007 by Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru, and Jonathan Neman, three months after they graduated from Georgetown University's undergraduate business school. As of October 2016, it had 64 stores in operation in the United States, in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The company has over 1,700 employees. In addition to food, sweetgreen has key initiatives in the philanthropy, music (sweetlife festival), technology (sweetgreen app) and lifestyle space.
The seasonal menu is a rotation of three regional, seasonal dishes in each market.
sweetgreen has become a "thought leader" in the food industry through its supply chain and transparency efforts. Its seasonal menu rotates five times a year and the produce of 300 farms can be found in its stores. sweetgreen sources from farmers that use organic and conventional methods, a large number of use IPM (integrated pest management). Its poultry is humanely raised, antibiotic-free, cage-free and fed a vegetarian diet with no animal by products, its produce and cheese is organic, local, antibiotic free and free of RBGH. sweetgreen favours simple recipes with natural flavours and uses only natural sweeteners honey and agave to add a few sweetness.
sweetgreen's Executive Chef, Michael Stebner, has been with the company after 2014.
Dan Barber and Blue Hill
In the summer of 2015 sweetgreen partnered with Chef Dan Barber to create Blue Hill's "wastED" salad which uses food "scraps that are commonly thrown away. The purpose of the collaboration was to teach consumers about the country's food waste problem and encourage people to use plant parts that are often "wasted."
Jon and Vinny
Upon entering the Los Angeles market in 2015, sweetgreen teamed up with the dynamic chef duo Jon and Vinny to create the "Za'atar Salad." A portion of the sales went directly to support the local partner for sweetgreen in schools.
In 2015, in the lead up to the sweetlife music festival, sweetgreen collaborated with musician Kendrick Lamar leading up to his second appearance at the sweetlife music festival. The salad, named "Beets Don't Kale My Vibe," was a pun playing off one of Lamar's most well known lyrics. The collaboration received an enormous amount of press and coverage with over 100 articles featuring the salad, and ten percent of proceeds from the salad went to FoodCorps to connect kids to real food.
sweetgreen collaborated with David Chang of Momofuku to create a new salad dressing that was featured in the New York locations throughout the summer of 2014. The "Hozon Salad" used Momofuku's sunnflower hosanna in the dressing on a bowl of kale, sunflower sprouts, kale, roasted chicken, onions, carrots, cucumbers, missed seeds and basil.
Cookbook author and New York Time columnist Mark Bittman worked with sweetgreen in the Spring of 2014 to create the April VB6 Salad. Bittman created the VB6 diet where you eat only vegan before 6pm in order to lose weight and "restore health."
Sweetgreen raised its initial $375,000 of startup funding from investors including the three founders' parents, Joe Bastianich, Seth Goldman, and Washington's Latino Economic Development Center. In 2013, it accepted a $22 million investment from Revolution Growth, a venture capital fund founded by Steve Case. In 2014, it received $18.5 million in investment from Revolution Growth. In 2015, it raised an additional $35 million in investment under the lead of T. Rowe Price with contributions from existing investor Revolution Growth. The company has raised over $95 million to date.
The sweetlife festival is sweetgreen's music and food festival that celebrates music, food and community. The festival brings the company's sense of "passion and purpose", blending music with culinary partners who share sweet green's commitment to sustainability, transparent values, and community. Vendors have included local chefs, like Erik Bruner-Yang, José Andrés, and Nick Wiseman.
The sweetlife festival takes place at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. It includes performances from a talented lineup of artists and chefs and a few of the time's most in-demand and up-and-coming artists, including performances by The 1975, Halsey, Flume, and 1980s favourite Blondie. With a nod to its roots, the festival additionally features a handful of local DC-area artists and chefs.
2016 will be the seventh year sweetlife has been held at Merriweather Post Pavilion and produced in continued partnership with I.M.P., one of the largest independent concert promoters and event production companies in the nation.