One of the most significant additions to the fast casual restaurant space over the past few years has been Sweetgreens. Sweetgreens is the first salad bar chain that has hit the main streets across the country. The restaurant has a very clear focus and goal of providing the average consumer with the ability to have an affordable and healthy meal on the go. This has been a huge improvement for health advocates and those that are looking to replace the burger and fries lunch options.
Sweetgreens is one of the fastest growing chains in the country. Three college buddies that were approaching graduation at Georgetown University started it less than ten years ago. The three young business owners found that they were frequently frustrated by the lack of off campus options that served healthy foods. For those that wanted a quick salad off campus, finding an option was next to impossible. To meet the need, which they found to be shared by many of their classmates, the friends decided to open their first Sweetgreens location just a few blocks off of campus.
The three entrepreneurs started their first chain with no additional employees and capital raised from about 40 different friends and family members. Ever since that point, the restaurant has done very well and they have expanded all over the country. The company now has over 30 company-owned stores and is looking to continue to expand with corporate owned stores and is even considering expanding into the franchise space.
While the company has done very well with consumers, it has also been a big hit with those in the investment community. The company has recently received a new round of venture capital private equity that put a valuation of the company at nearly $100 million. This makes it one of the fastest growing chains in the country.
Nathaniel Ru is one of the three founding partners of the company and has continued to be involved in the day-to-day operations. He is the co-CEO, a role he shares with the two other original partners, and has also acted as the primary face of the company. Nathaniel Ru will also be heavily involved in all expansion and investment options that the company will seek to make in the coming years.