How Nathaniel Ru and his High End Salad Chain Changed Everything

Nathaniel Ru and the team at Sweetgreen knew that they were on to something special before their first location had opened up. Nowadays, we know Sweetgreen as the Northeastern regional restaurant that serves delicious, healthy, high-end salads. Sweetgreen has become something of a legend in the circles of start-up restaurants thanks to the way their founders, led by Co-CEO Nathaniel Ru, have guided the company.

Ru and Sweetgreen have an amazing story to tell and it is particularly powerful for those that are seeking to make a difference as an entrepreneur at some point in their lives.

The Sweetgreen experience, as it has become known by locals, would never have existed without some very good luck over a decade ago. Nathaniel Ru and his co-founders, both fellow students from Georgetown University, had concocted the Sweetgreen concept while studying in class together. Read more: Sweetgreen | Wikipedia

Ru and his two friends wanted to create something that filled a need and made them feel good about what they were doing. So, Sweetgreen became a high-end, all natural, farm-to-table salad restaurant. The problem remained, despite the strength of their idea, they were just three fresh graduates who would have trouble getting taken seriously as businessmen.

Still, Ru and his team were able to get a sitdown session with the landlord of a beautiful tavern space on M Street in downtown Washington — just near enough to the Georgetown University campus.

This was the fist, and last time, Ru would ever wear a suit to a meeting — or so he jokes. Ru spearheaded the meeting and his fellow CEOs managed to show enough of a spark to convince the landlord to allow them to take out a lease, despite still being just a semester out of Georgetown.

Ru says of the meeting, “We took three and a half weeks and found some backers and an architect.” Ru goes on to explain, “NOw I know how blessed we were to get that chance. We would never be able to do it that way again.”

Nowadays, Sweetgreen has been seeing some serious franchise growth. With over 21 locations and a new corporate headquarters out in California, the future is bright for the company.

Theresa Dold, head of marketing at Sweetgreen, is now being tasked to work hand-in-hand with Nathaniel Ru to help develop something long lasting and enduring. Dold says, “People do not buy what you do. They buy the way that you do it.”