Today, I’m joined by Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of Sweetgreen, a fast casual chain serving fresh meals with transparently-sourced ingredients.
Studying abroad in Australia, Jonathan noticed the country had managed to make healthy eating cool. So in 2007, he set on a mission to recreate that sentiment overseas — launching Sweetgreen to make salad mainstream. Sixteen years later, the restaurant has 220 locations and a recently expanded menu featuring protein-rich plates.
In this episode, we break down the strategy behind Sweetgreen’s reinvention of fast food. Plus, we discuss how food systems, government policy, and healthcare complicate what we eat.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How Sweetgreen leveraged branding and marketing to stand out
- The role of automation and technology in Sweetgreen’s daily operations
- Jonathan’s views on health and making fresh, local meals more accessible
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(01:21) The state of Sweetgreen
(04:37) Founding story
(08:24) The challenges of building Sweetgreen
(11:13) The significance of quality and transparency in sourcing
(13:28) Maintaining quality at scale
(15:22) Using technology and automation to improve efficiency and maintain food ethos
(22:17) The brand’s cultural relevance
(27:16) The challenge of pricing and accessibility
(29:44) Future roadmap
(33:44) Jonathan’s four stages of designing a successful food business
(35:53) The true cost of food and potential lobbying
(38:56) Expanding Sweetgreen’s menu with Protein Plates