Jonathan Neman, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of salad chain Sweetgreen, isn't just interested in running a successful restaurant – he's interested in changing how people think about food.
Neman met his co-founders Nicolas Jammet and Nathaniel Ru while they were students at George Washington University, where they discovered a mutual love of health and healthy food. Their first restaurant, built in 2007, was only 500 square feet. The men built a storage facility in a parking garage down the street to held much of their supplies in order to make space. Eventually, after facing robberies, debt, and more, the men found success by becoming pioneers in the farm-to-table food industry. And now, their company is valued at over $1.6 billion with more than 91 locations around the country.
To the founders, Sweetgreen is about the mission of promoting healthy eating. Neman says that the American food system has a considerable problem with growing and producing good food for consumers, treating farmers with respect and dignity, and giving back to the community with their earnings.
"We're riding a massive wave in the way people consume food," Neman tells How Brands Are Born. "People have woken up to the fact that they want to know where their food comes from, and they're making the connection between what they eat and how they feel. We believe that food is healthcare and can be medicine."
Neman says that the goal of Sweetgreen has always been to make healthy eating accessible and easy for everyone, and that technology is being leveraged to accomplish that goal. Their newest goal is to integrate technology into their user experience. They aim to utilize blockchain to increase transparency around the sourcing and production of their food. Sweetgreen is also investing in its mobile app, as over 50% of orders are generated through it.