Nathaniel Ru and a few of his buddies from Georgetown University love food which is healthy, quick and affordable. But, it was not always easy finding it around the Washington area. With no experience in the restaurant business, they decided that it would be a great idea to open one. The person who owned the building where they wanted the restaurant to be, was reluctant. She kept hanging up on them every time they called. They became persistent by making daily calls. Soon, their tenacity paid off.
Ru said it was the first time he ever wore a suit to a business meeting. With business plans and a name, the buddies were ready to go. At the meeting they were told by the landlord, to come back when they have an architect, backers, and a better business proposal. Ru was still grateful for the meeting and advice she gave them. He knew they still had a chance. So, within three weeks they were ready for their second meeting.
Today, the restaurant “Sweetgreen” has taken roots across the United States in places such as Boston, New York, Philidelphia, and Washington. They carry a line of various juices, healthy wraps, and yogurts, not wanting to be known for only juices. The company buys their ingredients from the local farmers. Knowing that no matter how successful they become, they have to stay in tune with what the company stands for and also the needs of the community must be met. They have posted five values in all the kitchens, just as a reminder.
In 2009, having outgrown the space, they moved the restaurant to a bigger space in Dupont Circle, an influential retail outlet. On opening day, family, friends, and investor came but no customers. Instead of becoming anxious, they embarked on the idea of playing music ever Saturday and Sunday. It took two and a half weeks before the place began to fill up, it was a success. In 2010, they began a “Food and Wine Experience” which brought in about six hundred customers. Four years later that name was changed to “Sweetlife”, attracting more than twenty thousand customers.
Nathaniel Ru and the other owners know they have encouraged others to live a healthier lifestyle. They want to be known as a Life Style Brand, not just a restaurant.