New salad spot opens for business
April 12, 2011, 3:51 am · Updated April 12, 2011, 12:00 am·
After a week of free giveaways and private soft openings, Sweetgreen officially opens its doors to the public Tuesday at 3925 Walnut St.
Sweetgreen — a fast-casual restaurant serving salads, wraps and frozen yogurt — brings the Radian’s retail space to full occupancy.
Georgetown alumni Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Newman and Nathaniel Ru founded the company in 2007 and opened a storefront just two months after they graduated.
The opening at the Radian marks the ninth location of the restaurant — but this time, it has returned to its roots.
“It’s a little nostalgic for us because we opened our very first storefront on a college campus,” Ru explained. “It’s kind of like a homecoming.”
Sweetgreen is not just a restaurant — it’s a lifestyle, according to its founders. Dubbed “the Sweetlife,” eco-awareness and a “cool” atmosphere helped shape the brand, Ru said. From using alternative energy to power each location, to incorporating healthy, organic ingredients for its salads, wraps and yogurt, Sweetgreen attempts to show how to live a sustainable lifestyle.
The concept far surpasses the physical restaurant, as the founders have ongoing programs such as “Sweetgreen in Schools,” student brand ambassadors and a music festival in Maryland this May featuring artists such as The Strokes and Spring Fling performer Lupe Fiasco.
Last Tuesday, Sweetgreen collaborated with the Marketing Undergraduate Students Establishment’s Foodie Week to show students how marketing and branding can pay off for restaurants. Ru spoke at an open lecture about brand marketing and then invited students back to the restaurant for frozen yogurt samples and tortilla chips with various toppings.
Wharton junior Jia Pan, the vice president of Professional Development for MUSE, was happy to collaborate with Sweetgreen for this year’s Foodie Week festivities.
“Sweetgreen has a different dimension that we thought would be exciting to have as a part of MUSE,” she said, adding that “the huge brand value — the ‘Sweetlife’ and its emotional connection with customers — is extremely valuable for our members to understand.”
Last week, the winners of Sweetgreen’s bike promotion and Radian residents were invited to the restaurant for private events. Additionally, from noon to 2 p.m., the restaurant invited the first 100 patrons to have a free signature salad, such as the $9.50 Guacamole Greens salad and the $10 Greek-inspired Santorini Salad.
Wharton freshman Eliza Goode said she loved her free salad at Sweetgreen last week. Eager to return, she said, “The Guacamole Greens salad was great, and I want to try it in wrap next time.”
Taking advantage of their eco-friendly concept, Goode also received a “salad blaster” — a plastic bowl patrons can purchase for $6 that will help the restaurant cut down on waste. Customers with a salad blaster receive a free vegetable topping for their salad.
College and Wharton sophomore Amanda Taitz enjoyed herself so much that she went to Sweetgreen three times during its promotional hours. “I loved it,” she said. “The food’s really good, and the people are really nice. I’m going back [Tuesday] too.”
“The Sweetlife was born in college,” Jammet said. “We’re super excited to bring it back to students because we were students when we started it,” Ru chimed in.