When Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman were students at Georgetown University they noticed that there weren’t many convenient, affordable and healthy food options on campus that were actually tasty.
“We didn’t have anywhere to eat that was delicious, clean, transparent and craveable,” stated Jammet, “a lot of the options we had were incredibly delicious but didn’t make you feel good after. We didn’t understand why the food that tasted the best was so heavy so we wanted to create something that was both delicious and healthy.”
During their time at Georgetown, the three friends created a business plan to fill that void, raised capital from friends and family and opened the first Sweetgreen restaurant in 2007 — three months after graduating. Sweetgreen is now known for its fresh salads, clean proteins and warm bowls made with local and organic ingredients in a fast-casual environment at affordable prices. There are now over 100 locations across the country and the latest two to open are in Cherry Creek and LoDo.
“Eating healthy was harder [than it is now]. It was harder to find because you were always sacrificing something — it was either expensive, hard to find or didn’t taste good.”
Each Sweetgreen location is well thought out by the team and begins by having conversations with local farmers and growers. “We spend a lot of time building the supply network. It’s a really important part of how we think about our growth and building the supply network starts early in the process,” stated Jammet. Sweetgreen works with farmers in each region to bring as many local ingredients to each location as possible while also introducing each location to other ingredients from organic producers around the country. Each location has a “source board” where guests can see the names of the farms and where each ingredient comes from to allow for full transparency of the supply chain.
The two Denver locations are the first in the Rocky Mountain region and are some of the first in the country to serve beer and cider from local favorites Copper Kettle and C Squared. The drinks pair well with any of the warm bowls, plates or salads. A few local ingredients include Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy feta in the chicken chimichurri plate and Colorado Sun tofu in the tofu steak + sweet potato plate.
“It’s food that makes you feel good, is good for your body and good for all the stakeholders involved,” said Jammet. Sweetgreen sources its seafood — mostly steelhead trout — from the Northwest and aims to make people comfortable eating fish that they haven’t tried before. “There are so many more types of fish out there, if you get comfortable with the names of them you’ll enjoy them just as much [as something like salmon],” Jammet explained. Steelhead — along with other proteins like chicken, tofu, chickpeas and hard boiled eggs — can be enjoyed on top of a signature or custom bowl, salad or plate.
Sweetgreen delicately balances sustainability with the form, functionality and design of everything from the packaging to the restaurant itself. Each restaurant measures its carbon footprint and sets goals for the following year to lower it. You’ll also notice that all of the packaging is recyclable or compostable. “We are big believers in constant evolution and innovation,” said Jammet.
As more locations open up throughout the country Sweetgreen continues to adapt to the changing environment and aims to make each location a local staple. From working with local artists to design and decorate the space to helping local farmers plan next season’s harvest, Sweetgreen tries to create an atmosphere and experience that is as unique as the city itself.
Sweetgreen’s LoDo location is located at 1750 Wewatta St, Denver and is open Monday – Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. The Cherry Creek location is located at 275 Saint Paul St, Denver and is open Monday – Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.