Nathaniel Ru: Reinventing Legacy Restaurants


The food industry has gone through a lot of changes over the past few years. Everyone’s trying to provide the healthiest options they can, while still offering food at a good price. The problem that a lot of food chains are facing is adaptability.

Most food chains are run by big corporations, which move much slower than small mom and pop’s operations. This is the kind of benefit that Sweetgreen’s is taking advantage of with their new business model. Sweetgreen is a high-end salad chain that’s successfully swiping across the nation. Honestly, Sweetgreen is accomplishing what large corporations cannot.

Sweetgreen holds a major advantage over large corporations: it’s new to the industry. Unlike the big-name food chains people are accustomed to, Sweetgreen began as a health-conscious restaurant chain. It was important to the co-founders that Sweetgreen offer healthy, fresh, organic, locally grown produce in their salads.

It was also important that their salads be more just plain lettuce and cabbage mixes in a plastic container. For co-CEO Nathaniel Ru, it’s about feeding people better food as much as it’s about feeding more people. This proved to be a winning combination for Sweetgreen, leading the brand to open 40 locations across the country.

Sweetgreen rethought of more than just their menu ingredients. The co-CEOs also implemented many new forms of management. The goal: stay as close to their customers as possible. To accomplish this, their corporate offices shut down at least five times a year, so that the office employees get a chance to work in the restaurants.

They also chose to decentralize their headcount. None of the co-CEOs were fond of big corporate headquarters, which is why they chose to keep their operations close to the chest. All three of the co-CEOs fly from coast to coast, growing their company one location at a time.

The co-CEOs remain a strong part of their company. They don’t just let their employees do all the work. In fact, that was a big problem for them in the early years of the business. They grew accustomed to doing everything themselves; it was hard for them to let go of a lot of that responsibility.

Now, they can look back at those experiences and understand their mistakes. Their main mistake was fear of failure, which they overcame during winter break.

Learn more about Nathaniel Ru:

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2016/09/23/bluecart-simplifying-restaurant-orders-video.html
http://fortune.com/2016/02/18/sweetgreen-entrepreneurs/