Tenant Talk: The Secret Ingredient To A $1 Billion Salad Company



Website: https://www.sweetgreen.com/
Founded: 2007
Category: Fast-Casual
Head of Real Estate: Jason Kastner
Investors: Parents of the 3 Co-Founders, Joe Bastianich, Seth Goldman, Washington’s Latino Economic Development Center, Revolution Growth, Fidelity, Arrive…



Have you ever heard a salad company say they plan to replace McDonald’s?

Probably not, and before Sweetgreen, it would seem flat-out impossible. Sweetgreen is the fast-casual embodiment of millennial health/aesthetic obsession. The company combines locally sourced, clean food with the uber responsive digital platform that is in high demand. Started by 3 college students, the solution to lunch dilemma has grown into a lifestyle brand called “The Sweet Life”, which is also the name of their annual music and food festival.

“At the end of the day, we want to replace McDonald’s as the global iconic food brand,” Johnathan Neman, one of the founders of Sweetgreen says. The company has the cash to do it. Capital will come from current business and, of course, this month’s announcement of a $200 million raise.


What is setting up the fast-casual chain, Sweetgreen for that amount of sweet green?

It’s not freshly baked croutons.


If you haven’t been paying attention, you may not know that mobile access runs many facets of American life. This article on HqO’s blog swiftly vanquishes any doubt about that. The online blog notes Sweetgreen as exhibit A: “If you’re not completely sold, look at Sweetgreen. This year they reach over 1 million users on their app with over 50% of orders processed through said app or online. The fast-casual salad chain’s online ordering revenue is increasing at a rate of 80% year-over-year.”


It is undeniable that there is unmatched value in saving consumers time, especially without compromising quality or dishing out artificial meals. This is a tough lesson for some of retail’s “classic” tenants to grasp.


Sweetgreen is like a salad company mixed with the digital fame of Sophia the Robot (Name doesn’t ring a bell? Educate yourself here on the AI robot by Hanson Robotics that is so lifelike and independent, she just went on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon). We are talking about a 90 restaurant company with 1 million app users and a full operating system.


While UX and fresh beets together may seem like a brand identity crisis, HqO agrees: Every company is a tech company.

This doesn’t mean everyone should build their own digital gadgets or release tech services. (We’re talking to you CRE platform #2301.) But as we have all seen in retail the past year, thriving in this evolving market comes down to finding a way to embrace technology for your client’s experience. We’ve seen what happens to tired tenants who ignore technology or fail to integrate it to better serve their customers.



Is a salad company doubling as an app store favorite even good for CRE?


Forbes reports: “While the future of Sweetgreen is digital, it’s also still a little bit analog. Neman says he and his team want to double their store count over the next three years, expand to new states (and, eventually, countries) and diversify the types of stores and kitchens they build.”


“Some, he suggested, might be ghost kitchens that are dedicated to pick-up and delivery orders placed on the app in order to make getting a Sweetgreen salad “as fast as possible.” Others will look more like a traditional restaurant.”


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