Founded in 2007, fast-food restaurant chain Sweetgreen embarked on a mission to provide simple, seasonal and healthy food through salads and grain bowls made from scratch using fresh vegetables. On Feb. 24, Sweetgreen opened a new restaurant on the north side of Linden Square in Wellesley at 180 Linden St.
Jammal Pattway, manager of the Sweetgreen in Wellesley, has worked in all 13 Sweetgreen restaurants in Massachusetts. He explained that Sweetgreen was born from a lack of healthy college dining hall options.
“Sweetgreen really was an idea from some college students from Georgetown University whose [dining] options were very limited about price and fast food, where they wanted to step out and came up with this idea to speed up the food [preparation] process with a healthier option,” said Pattway.
He believes that the restaurant has been so successful because it occupies a unique niche in the food market.
“It creates a demand. Before Sweetgreen, we didn’t have [many other] salad restaurants. Other restaurants serve salad, and you can get salad in any grocery store, but the vegetables in these salads are not organic. Here in Sweetgreen, we purchase our ingredients [mainly] from Massachusetts and the New England area,” Pattway stated.
Since it originated with the ideals of healthy lifestyles and organic food, Sweetgreen also focuses on recycling to protect the environment.
“We want to create an impact on earth as minimum as possible. Not only do we serve good food, but also we use compostable wear—for example, things that can break down, that won’t do harm to the world,” Pattway explained. “Sweetgreen has a great recycling program, and we try to decrease our use of plastic. All the food that has been thrown away is going back to the earth.”
In addition to the food recycling program, each Sweetgreen restaurant reflects its own community and gives back to the surrounding area.
As Pattway described, before the restaurant in Wellesley opened, “Shelters like the Red Cross would come and pick up salad to feed homeless people staying in the shelter. I would say that we are well-known, and we still feed our community.”
In the two months since its opening, Sweetgreen has become very popular in the Wellesley community. Pattway says most of the people he meets at the restaurant order for large groups.
“‘Everyone’ is our targeted consumers…Usually, one customer places an order for six to seven people. There is also a lady who will call on Mondays and order salad for the whole week, and some people go here for three meals a day,” Pattway said.
The restaurant has also received many orders from surrounding colleges. “We often receive orders from Babson, Wellesley, Mass Bay, Wellesley High and our market manager will come and give us instruction on how to prepare for a big group of students. I personally have a lot of fun to see students become so excited about salad. 10 years [ago] when I was in school, I didn’t even like salad. Time changes, and now younger kids ask their moms to get salad for a meal,” Pattway said.
Other staff members say they enjoy working at Sweetgreen as much as Pattway does. Alexander Jimenez supervises food preparation at Sweetgreen. He is from New York and lived in Colombia for more than 10 years.
“Before I came to work here, I didn’t even know Sweetgreen. Everybody has the idea of fast food, the way that Sweetgreen provides is very healthy. And besides that, I’m in charge of preparing high quality, organic food. The process is safe and everything is clean. I feel proud that I work in Sweetgreen and prepare high quality food to our customers,” he said.
Each customer has their own favorite salad or warm bowl at Sweetgreen. I tried the Chicken Pesto Parm, which is a warm bowl that just came out in April, and I loved it. It is interesting to see how the warm bowl combines spicy flavor with green vegetables. The initial impression of the salad is light, but the spicy flavor on top of it adds another dimension to the dish. The general vibe of the restaurant is modern and environmentally friendly. Even though it is a little expensive to spend more than $10 on a salad, the quality of the food is good and well worth the price.
Pattway’s personal favorite salad is Hummus Tahina and he also likes the Chicken Pesto Parm. Jimenez prefers the Harvest Bowl, one of Sweetgreen’s most popular meals.
With a perfect location in Linden Square and a high demand, Pattway said Sweetgreen has had great success in the first two months of opening.
“Sweetgreen offers better options to taste good,” he explained. “In Wellesley, it [is] a perfect area.”