HOW IT ALL WORKS
Unlike most traditional fast-food chains, Sweetgreen eschews the efficiency of centralized food sourcing and production. Its preparations to enter a new market begin a year in advance. Before finalizing a restaurant location, the company’s supply-chain team is on the ground vetting farms and pitching distributors to come on board—a tough sell when there is only one location to service in the beginning. But the company is up front about the fact that it can’t run a national restaurant chain and source everything organically, locally, and from mom-and-pop farms. When a vegetable is in season, it likely comes from a regional supplier; when it’s not, it comes from a big supplier in California. That’s practical now that Sweetgreen has locations in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, and Maryland and Virginia.