The Story Behind the Success of National Fast Food Restaurant Chain, Sweetgreen

Jonathan Neman, Nathaniel Ru, and Nicholas Jammet started Sweetgreen restaurant three months after graduating from Georgetown University and grew it into a national fast food outlet. Today, every student at the university knows the local Georgetown restaurant that is one of 64 national locations in the U.S.


In 2007, the three college friends and colleagues decided to open a restaurant during their fourth year after they realized that there an unexploited niche in the local fast food market. Their restaurant would offer healthy food that was affordable to both the students and residents.


Starting Sweetgreen

After writing their business plan, the three opened their first restaurant despite their inexperience in entrepreneurship and the food industry. However, they used any local resource that was available to them at the time from talking to other restaurant owners to seeking help from their college faculty. They also applied what they had learned so far in their restaurant, and it paid off.


Sweetgreen relies on five key values: “Win, win, win,” “Add the sweet touch,” “Make an impact,” “Think sustainably,” and “keep it real.” These values influence the daily operation of the company, its business decisions, how it celebrates successes, and who it hires. The three founders are keen on offering quality services, healthy food, developing practical solutions for their customers, and making an impact in the local community.


Community Service

Sweetgreen launched the “Sweetgreen in Schools” community program to educate children on the essence of proper nutrition and living healthily. The program runs several workshops and has seen the participation of an impressive 20,000 kids. Sweetgreen also uses music to reach its customers and organizes a festival of food and music every year. Nathaniel, Jonathan, and Nicholas say they plan to remain actively involved in the Georgetown community for years to come.


Nathaniel Ru

Nathaniel Ru is a co-CEO and co-founder of Sweetgreen – a successful fast food chain restaurant started in Georgetown. During his final year in college, Nathaniel and his two friends, Nicolas Jammet and Jonathan Neman, realized that there was a need to have a restaurant that served fresh and healthy food in the community.


Today, Nathaniel co-runs the company from New York. He also serves as the principal of SWTLF Ventures and has invested in several ventures including LOLA, EatPops, Bond Street, and MeUndies. Nathaniel is active in all Sweetgreen’s philanthropic and community service programs.