How Nathaniel Ru Brought Sweetgreen to Life

Sweetgreen is the latest sensation to be sweeping the table with customers who want a food conscious and healthy alternative to modern fast food. Sweetgreen was established by Nathaniel Ru and a pair of his friends and fellow students at Georgetown University. The trio would brainstorm their concept for a farm – to – table restaurant during their entrepreneurship class but it wouldn’t be until after graduation that they put their plan into effect.


For Nathaniel Ru, the concept of Sweetgreen was a big deal. Ru and his fellow Sweetgreen co-founders had done nothing in business before. They were fresh faced graduates with an idea that would be hard to sell. Fortunately they found a small former tavern and a landlord that was willing to take a chance on them — after some urging. Ru recalls trying to explain the concept of Sweetgreen to the property landlord several times, each conversation with the landlord hanging up. Finally they got a face to face meeting and the rest is history. With a smile Nathaniel Ru recalls, “That was the first and last time that I wore a suit to a business meeting.”


Within a month of landing their space the team had hired an architect and found multiple backers for their project. Everything was going so smoothly that it was almost hard to believe. Serendipity, if nothing else. Ru says, “Now I know how blessed we were to get that chance.” He goes on to admit that something like that would never happen again and he concluded by saying, “The timing was just right.” And right he was. More people than ever are beginning to become aware and wise about the food they are consuming, so Sweetgreen’s health-first approach to quick and ready salads was right up their demographic’s alley.


Now there are 21 different Sweetgreen locations sprinkled through the Northeast’s biggest cities: New York, Boston and Philadelphia. The Sweetgreen shops routinely have lines out the door with the majority of customers making their orders online, and merely swinging by to pick them up. This focus on technology and culinary trends has put co-founder Theresa Dold into the mindset of comparing Sweetgreen to another revolutionary company: Apple. Dold explains that they focused on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’. Nathaniel Ru and his team have certainly honed in on what they do best and Sweetgreen continues to grow as a result.