Nathaniel Ru Wants Everything To Last Longer Than Our Lives


When Nathaniel Ru was at Georgetown University in his senior year, he joined some friends in fantasizing about opening a healthy cafe at the famous school’s location in Washington D.C. They also thought such a new place should be a fun place that has easy access and low overhead. The start of their dream came when they leased a small tavern on M Street, downtown.


That was a mere six years ago. Their small first store quickly grew into a large chain of 21 farm-to-table restaurants: Sweetgreen. The food is fresh, healthy, and authentically original cuisine. As the company grew, technology became Nathaniel Ru’s increasingly helpful solution to many problems that cropped up. He and his partners have experienced a second education, after their academic days at Georgetown, in the realities of the Real World. They have all grown up into modern business executives that make a difference in their company and in turn for the whole world. Ru calls it, “The new era of marketing, globalization, analytics, and choice.


The way Sweetgreen grew up is actually a very interesting story. The owner of their first tavern space also owned an apartment building nearby where Ru and his partners were living. Ru makes it clear that he had to work on building a good relationship with that landlord, who was not at all on board in the beginning. The partners presented their business plan for what would become Sweetgreen to the property owner. She became intrigued, even though they were still young and had not quite completed college, yet, at the time. She encouraged them to find investors and an architect and then come back to her with a fully-fleshed-out business plan.


Nathaniel Ru explains that the worked furiously for over 3 weeks to find backers and an architect. He calls that landlord a blessing, because she was willing to give students, without any real business experience, a chance. He credits her decision to help them and the timing of their launch of the business with its overwhelming success. As of 2016, Sweetgreen had more than 64 stores employing over 1,700 people in many states in the United States.