Sweetgreen, a high-end salad chain, is the envy of many chain restaurants across the nation. It is financed by some of the biggest investors in America with the likes of Danny Meyer and Steve Case. It serves fresh, organic, local, and healthy dishes making its recipe resonate with diners across its 40 locations countrywide.
According to one of its three co-CEOs Nathaniel Ru, the company aims to create a lasting brand that feeds more customers better food. However, traditional chains have a lot more to learn from Sweetgreen’s co-CEOs than just the food they serve.
The three former Georgetown University classmates are tech pioneers and have ensured that at least 30 percent of all the company’s transactions are made online through its mobile app or website.
Ru said that technology was always part of their DNA. The trio has also rethought management strategies. To remain close to their patrons, Sweetgreen shuts down its corporate offices about five times a year to allow its staff to work from its restaurants.
The three co-CEOs operate bi-coastal. This means that they have no main headquarters. Ru revealed that they do not believe in the essence of having a national corporate headquarters. As a result, they have decentralized their operations and headcount.
Interview with Fortune
Nathaniel Ru revealed a lot about himself in an interview with Fortune. He would advise his 20-year-old self to read more books. On management, he admitted that it was important to build a competent team and delegate work as soon as possible.
Ru admires Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank because of his accomplishments at the company. Besides Sweetgreen, Ru revealed that he liked Johnny Monis’ restaurant called Little Serow based in Washington D.C., which serves Thai food.
Nathaniel Ru and his colleagues Jonathan ‘Jon’ Neman and Nicolas ‘Nic’ Jammet first met at Georgetown University.
The three took an entrepreneurship class together and decided to start a restaurant when they realized that Georgetown did not have any healthy eating options. In 2007, after graduating, they opened their first restaurant.
The three realized that it was a viable business idea when they survived their first winter break after campus emptied out. This is because their primary target was college students.
Nathaniel studied finance at Georgetown University’s McDonough business school. In 2010, Ru and his partners started Sweetlife, which is a music and food festival. He has invested in companies like LOLA, MeUndies, Bond Street, and EatPops.