Nathaniel Ru: Changing the Green Restaurant Game
For most college students set to graduate, their career paths are already planned out. But for Nathaniel Ru and some of his friends, they were more interested in an empty lot just outside their Georgetown apartment building. You see, Ru and his friends were looking for a nice restaurant that served healthy foods, but they could never seem to find one. The empty lot beckoned to them, and it took some convincing of the owner but “Sweetgreen” was born soon after.
Sweetgreen wants to be different than any healthy restaurant, or any restaurant in general. Instead of a place to just simply buy food, they want to be a “why” company. That entails, according to Ru, making every restaurant unique in themselves, adapting to the community around it. Not wanting to become a typical place, following the same path as the last restaurant, Sweetgreen makes sure that the community is included in the plan. It is a part of their three pillar statement; community, company, customer are the three pillars that must all work in order for a “win-win-win” situation. Read more: Nathaniel Ru | Dynamic Dialogues and Sweetgreen Founder Interview – Nathaniel Ru | Business Insider
Another way Sweetgreen is changing the restaurant game is in their relationship with the community. In their Washington D.C. restaurant, the store will partner with local yoga studios and have yoga classes in the restaurant in the morning and then have yoga promotional days inside the store. It is all about Ru’s ideas of making the community of the three pillars. If one of the pillars isn’t working, then the whole concept doesn’t work. That was almost the downfall of the company in its early life. 2009, in Du Pont Circle, the newest Sweetgreen opened, but had few customers over the first two weeks. In order to fix the situation, the company turned back to why they got started, being a “why” company. So on the weekends, the restaurant would bring speakers outside and play music for the customers to attract more. This in turn has grown to “Sweetlife” which is a regional music festival that is attended by roughly 20,000 people annually over the last four years.
From humble beginnings to over 40 sites nation-wide, Sweetgreens is a company to watch out for over the coming years. And with Nathaniel Ru in charge, keeping those three pillars close to himself and his restaurant business, there’s no telling where Sweetgreens can go.
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