Nathaniel Ru’s Green Empire

In 2013, Nathaniel Ru and a few of his friends her Georgetown University opened up a little eatery in Washington D.C. It was called Sweetgreen. Four years later, there are now over 21 Sweetgreen eateries on the east coast. That is a lot of growth in a short time, but the young business partners have not cut any corners. Each location is focused on offering customers the freshest, local ingredients in their menu fare. Moreover, they serve as more than just a restaurant. They are a hub for like-minded people to find comfort and solace while enjoying a healthy meal.


Ru says that there was a lot of luck in their starting off. Ru and his partners were still finishing classes when they stopped an empty storefront in their neighborhood and began dreaming about its potential. When he called the landlady to check on the availability he received a reasonable response, she hung up. However, that didn’t deter him from pressing forward. Ru is the son of first-generation immigrant parents who started their own business. He knew first hand what it would take to own and operate a small business and he believed he had it.


As it turns out, he did. Sweetgreen was an immediate success. The company has worked hard to keep up with its growth, developing a five-point mission plan that it posts within each of its locations. Ru and his partners also work hard to assure that their employees are treated well. Five times per year, the corporate headquarter closes own so that the executive employees can work within their brick-and-mortar stores. They also have shown an exemplary respect for their customers. Employees are encouraged to provide customers with coupons, door service, and even Sweetgreen umbrellas on rainy days. Ru and his teammates want to create a true community vibe.


The team has kept it humble and made it clear that their motivations are more than just monetary. They’ve already established an annual music festival that takes place in Columbia, MD. People gather to eat healthy food and listen to music while embracing Sweetgreen’s mission to support sustainable agriculture and community development. Past artists include Kendrick Lamar, Flume, The Shins, and Passion Pit. It is not just musical talent that Sweetgreen is attracting either. The eatery has made some fantastic foodie connections, such as partnering up with David Change of Momofuku, Blue Hill, and Mark Bittman.


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