Sweetgreen Takes the West Coast


KIM BUSSING/THE HOYA  The first Sweetgreen Los Angeles location takes the name of the Kale Caesar seriously.

Fear not, West Coast-bound Hoyas, Sweetgreen has finally extended its roots to California soil. The Los Angeles location, which opened in May of this year, marks the 30th Sweetgreen store, with a 31st set to open soon in Santa Monica.

Founded in 2007 by Jonathan Neman (MSB ’07), Nicholas Jammet (MSB ’07) and Nathaniel Ru (MSB ’07), Sweetgreen is at the forefront of farm-to-table fast food restaurants, along with being a staple in most Georgetown students’ diets. The chain has rapidly gained traction on the East Coast, with storefronts in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Despite Neman and Ru’s status as Los Angeles natives, the California opening is a big move for the company, requiring working with new farmers and understanding a new demographic.

Not that it’s a big question about whether or not Angelenos love salad: the market is already saturated with fan favorites like Simply Salad, Mixt Greens and Tender Greens. Still, Sweetgreen seems to be faring well despite the competition. On a Saturday evening, the airy, two-floor store catered to a constant flow of diners.

Located just minutes from the infamous Grove, an outdoor mall ideal for equal parts shopping and celebrity spotting, the salad chain’s newest addition stays true to their mission of providing fresh and high-quality food. In an interview with Los Angeles Magazine, the founders said they familiarize themselves with local farmers before opening a new location. The regionally-tailored menu reflects Sweetgreen’s commitment to using local produce, meaning that everything is as fresh as you would expect, but your go-to salad may not make an appearance in Hollywood.

While some favorites remain — including the Rad Thai, featuring carrots, sunflower seeds, cucumbers, and citrus shrimp, and the Kale Caesar, which is exactly what it sounds like — the bacon egg and blue cheese Abocobbo has been scrapped for the aptly named West Roast, with zucchini and radishes, roasted chicken and pesto vinaigrette. The grain menu has undergone mild changes, replacing the Harvest Bowl with the Hollywood Bowl, which pairs jicama, grapes and raisins with goat cheese and roasted chicken.

Early summer options also cater to the best the given state has to offer, and D.C.’s Roasted Veggies + Chicken salad is swapped for OMG Omega, a savory salmon-based dish seasoned with nori furikake and miso sesame ginger dressing, and garnished with tomatoes, basil and avocado. Cheese-lovers will rejoice in ditching feta in the Strawberries + Local Feta salad for Humboldt Fog goat cheese.

The service is even peppier than at the Georgetown location, perhaps to help garner a devoted clientele, or just because they know everyone in L.A. expects to be treated like a celebrity. I did find my salad — I played it safe and went with the Kale Caesar — to be more kale than anything else, although my friend’s Hummus Tahina was loaded with tomatoes, cucumbers, housemade hummus and baked falafel.

Such hiccups are to be expected though as the store gets its bearings. At the very least, the people behind the counter are well-versed in what they’re offering, impressive in its own right, considering another local chain restaurant has served me spinach instead of kale multiple times.

Judging by its success so far, Sweetgreen should continue sprouting up cross-country, meaning that Georgetown students craving more temperate weather, or, like me, a chance to hang out with Anna Kendrick, now have the perfect excuse to head to the Best Coast.

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