We talk a lot about guest experiences, core values, sustainability, collaboration, and community within the restaurant industry. One brand that has been excelling at all of the above is Sweetgreen. This emerging brand has over 75 locations operating across much of the United States, employing over 3,500 employees.
Operating since 2007, Sweetgreen has become well known for its simple, seasonal, and healthy food options, by aiming to offer an organic, locally sourced, and inexpensive alternative to the typical QSR. It operates with a transparent food supply network, the company cooks from scratch, and it has built a community of its own; of individuals who have a passion for ‘real food.’
Its systems have had a powerful impact on the health of individuals, communities, and most importantly to them, the environment. The company has positioned itself for further growth and opportunities, by striving for perfection in the following key areas:
1. Core Values
The company executives are strong believers in story-telling, mission statements, and core values that embody the company's day-to-day culture. Sweetgreen's six values that include “making decisions that last longer than you will” (sustainability) and “creating meaningful connections every day” (the sweet touch), for example, are undoubtedly the foundations to this brand's long-term success.
This is clearly evident in the company's daily ‘Sweet Talk’ held at each restaurant location. Every morning employees start their day with their own version of a traditional team huddle, allowing the restaurant the opportunity to “come together before the day starts to get to know each other as people— not just co-workers.” It’s a moment employees use to celebrate wins and talk about how they will make an impact on their customers.
The restaurant experience definitely doesn’t stop at just the customers within Sweetgreen, since the company strives for team experiences too— something every restaurant needs to embody.
2. Digital Presence
Sweetgreen has all the makings of a successful brand through an online presence. The company has positioned itself with an easy to navigate website, an online ordering platform, and a strong mobile presence, with the introduction of its own guest loyalty app.
With over 68,000 fans on Facebook, over 140,000 followers on Instagram, and a strong video channel on YouTube, it’s evident the brand also understand how to use a true, social media strategy. The company uses these networks to engage with its guests and promote healthier communities— a key component to its success.
Through working with nearly 500 different farmers, Sweetgreen has found a way to still offer food transparency and most importantly, consistency within its menu. All of this, while operating numerous outlets across the country. This speaks volumes about its leadership and management team’s effectiveness and success.
Sweetgreen's Food & Beverage Team visit all of these farmers, big and small, to ensure the product's quality and sourcing meets the company’s overall standards. Pairing this with a compact menu that includes both pre-built options and build-your-own options, Sweetgreen is able to produce real food, quickly and consistently— which are attractive options to a variety of demographics.
The company truly knows how to “keep it real” by cultivating authentic food and relationships while “making an impact” in its community.
The company mission is “to inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.” The goal is to have each space, be a reflection of the community it is a part of.
Over the past decade, this brand has also made it a point, to collaborate with other high profile chefs across the country, to create unique ‘real food’ options. This coincides with another company value— “Win, Win, Win”— which refers to creating a solution where the company wins, the customer wins, and the community wins.
Sweetgreen also knows how to celebrate passion and purpose. The company has accomplished this not only through food but through a variety of community events, as well. This was evident in its recent music festivals, which drew crowds of over 15,000 people.
Sweetgreen clearly understands the importance of linking growers and consumers and using a multitude of creative platforms, to build a sense of community. These are the foundations required to build a successful restaurant brand.
By Doug Radkey, Industry Expert