Back in 2007, Nathaniel Ru and two of his best friends were seniors at Georgetown University looking for healthy places to eat. When this search turned up nothing, the three friends decided to create their own restaurant. With the help of Ru’s degree in finance, the restaurant eventually grew into the popular chain sweetgreen. Now at only 32 years old, he and his friends manage this trendy chain in as positive a way they can, considering the impacts they are making on the world around them before making any business moves.
Ru’s goal for the restaurant revolves around sustainability. He has stated that “everything you do should last longer than you.” He and his friends try to find ways to reduce food waste within their restaurant chain, making an effort to contact the farmers they will be working with in order to do so. They use foods that have been grown locally and sustainably to achieve these goals.
The trio started their restaurant with a few founding principles that, although a few have been added over the years, they still use when running their restaurants. All five of these core values revolve around serving the company, customers, and the communities in which their stores are located. Ru and his colleagues believe that any decision they make should have a positive impact on all three of these groups.
This decision has led to several community-based efforts. Sweetgreen has held a music and food festival for the past several years, called sweetlife, which helps to promote a healthy lifestyle as opposed to just their food. The company has also taken part in cross-promotions with fitness clubs and yoga studios in another effort to promote this lifestyle.
Ru and his friends encourage employees to be as friendly as they can, and to go out of their way to help customers. Along with simply being a generous thing to do, this has become a beneficial marketing technique – any customer impressed by the positiveness they experienced in sweetgreen is more likely to recommend the restaurant to a friend. Of course, the employees are not forgotten by the founders, and they have opportunities to gain support and build friendships while working for sweetgreen.
These young entrepreneurs have been very successful, thanks to the ways that they view their business decisions, as well as the impacts they are making on the communities of others.
Check out Nathaniel Ru on LinkedIn.