Nathaniel Ru Serves Up Healthy Fast Food Alternatives

Healthy and fast food are not words that ever come together to form a sentence. Cheeseburgers are the opposite of healthy, and it only gets worse from there. All of the double cheeseburgers, chili cheese fries, apple pies and fried chicken wings that plague fast food menus today are anything but healthy. Many restaurants try to get customers to super-size their meals in order to get them to eat even more. Nathaniel Ru, however, is changing the game for all of those people that are tired of the same old boring, salty fry and fattening burger menus.


The salads that are being sold by the co-founders of Sweetgreen represent something different. They didn’t just want to enter the market and fade into the background like other restaurants that have tried healthy alternative menus and failed. What Nathaniel Ru wanted to do is get people on board that really were passionate the idea. During about 5 times out of the year the corporate offices are shut down so that these executives can work in the Sweetgreen restaurants. This is something that is almost unheard in the food industry, but it’s great to have people that are doing this because it helps them tweak their marketing and management style. It is much easier to see what customers like when executives come down from the corporate offices and see the customer reactions up close and personal.


Nathaniel Ru has been cut from a different cloth. He knew that he would survive in the food industry because he had something different to offer. Nathaniel Ru was going to give people access to food that was delectable and healthy, but he had to have a plan. He had to make people realize that they wanted what he was offering. This would be a challenge.


That is why he chose strategies that would change to course of restaurant business. He picked affluent neighborhoods for the locations. He incorporated a music festival into the mix to promote this food to young people. Nathaniel Ru also made different designs for the restaurant in different cities to make it stand out. There are even different menus for different restaurant locations. That is something that sparks conversations between guests in different cities. Nathaniel Ru also promoted the brand to schools. He has found an assortment of ways to get people familiar with this brand of healthy food from Sweetgreen.

How Three Graduates Revolved Sweetgreen to a $95 Million VC Dear

A while ago three graduates; Jonathan Neman, Nathaniel Ru and Nicolas Jammet sat wondering what to do next after they had graduated. Little did they know that some eight years later they would be the owners of one of the sexiest startups in America. The current healthy and hip farm-to-table salad chain dubbed Sweetgreen begun with just a shop back in 2007 in Georgetown. The startup got funding from 40 relatives and friends. At the moment the chain has grown to 31 shops countrywide and still targets to expand further to hit 40 by the time the year ends. The business has also successfully fulfilled three rounds of venture capital funding that has hit $95 million. Peter Elliot, Bloomberg’s reserve interviewed Jammet, a co-founder and co-CEO using video from the Sweetgreen office in Washington.



The narrative about how the company started is delicious as the three young men were looking for some better food off-campus when the idea hit them and they worked towards achieving it. The three are also the children of parent entrepreneurs and hence the issue of where they would work after campus did not appeal to them at all. All of them did not want to get employed and this desire to build their own business and offer better food options around Georgetown helped them succeed. Jimmet also attributed their success to their discipline and their employee structure which is almost paternal and hip. The company has also thrived due to their goal which is selling a bunch of values that are aimed at doing everything in the right way, a brand, lifestyle and a vision.



About Nathaniel Ru



Nathaniel Ru is a BS Finance graduate from the Georgetown University: McDonough School of Business where he graduated from in 2007. In the same year, he and two of his friends founded Sweetgreen, a fast casual and seasonal kitchen that focused on local sourcing and sustainability. It started in Georgetown and has grown to over 27 branches in the six states it operates in. In early 2015; the company had planned to spread out to the West coast area.



The company believes in providing food that fits in the customer’s budget, tastes, values, imagination and community. In 2010, Nathaniel and his two partners launched ‘Sweetlife’ which is the region’s biggest food and music festival. This event attracts over 20,000 attendees and has high profile and cutting edge artists as well as food trucks, top chefs, farmers and local purveyors. Sweetlife also embraces a good living, well being, health, sustainability and community.




$95 Million Business Built with Salads

Nathanial Ru, Nicolas Jammet, and Jonathan Newman, three Georgetown University graduates had an idea and built on it. They have created a business for healthy farm-to-table salads which they named Sweetgreens.

They obtained their startup funding from 40 of their friends and relatives to open their first location in Georgetown in 2007. At present, the chain boasts 31 stores nationwide and have plans to open nine more by the end of the year. Their parents are all entrepreneurs but they were not really interested in working in the everyday world in a 9-5 type job.

They wanted to build a business of their own in order to find better options for food in Georgetown that was sustainable. They realized that the salad options open to people were not that good nor were they healthy and didn’t really have any nutritional value. Once they had a workable plan everything just sort of fell into place for them. Nicholas Jammet, co-Chief Executive Officer, said that he still looked back at their original business plan, upon occasion for direction.

Sweetgreens doesn’t just sell lettuce leaves,actually, they are selling values that in business means doing everything right and sustainable. This is reflected in the food they serve, the way they treat their employees and customers and even the farms that they work with in order to serve the best.

The salad dressing is an essential component and combined with the salad it can make a meal. They are continually looking for new combinations for the dressings. In short, they are selling as vision and a brand. By everyone working together their company is on top of the game. They have a healthy, delicious and sustainable product that sells.

Nathanial Ru, a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington D.C., along with two friends were always looking for a healthy place to eat. So why not create one of their own. They had their eye on a 560 square foot space on M street that had been a tavern right in the middle of downtown. Six years later this became a reality in farm to table style eating.

Mr. Ru believes that to be successful you need to think about “why” before thinking about the what you are going to do and that you really need to challenge the norm. He approaches marketing with the idea that they want to be social, smart and local.