Meeting high standards at Sweetgreen

The fast-casual chain recently launched concierge ordering

Fast-casual chain Sweetgreen has long been worth watching. Its latest experiment, informally called Sweetgreen 3.0, opened last fall in midtown Manhattan. Rather than allowing customers to order directly at the counter, the new location features concierge ordering: Orders are sent to a kitchen and prepared; when they’re ready for pickup, the customer’s name appears on a screen.

Sweetgreen has long been at the front of the line when it comes to tapping into the emotional needs of its customers. It was one of the first to deploy blockchain throughout its supply chain — and provide visibility into where every product comes from (using, most often, regional farmers).

But none of this was good enough for the high standards of its founders, who told the Wall Street Journal that the Sweetgreen experience was “average or mediocre at best.” Harsh words, but ones that certainly reflect the long lines. The new location allows the company to double the number of bowls it offers at a time.

The pandemic isn’t slowing Sweetgreen’s innovation. Its recently launched Outpost program, which allowed customer to order via the app and receive delivery to select office buildings, has been rededicated to support those on the frontlines of the pandemic with free meals. And at the beginning of April, it created the Sweetgreen Impact Outpost Fund in partnership with Jose Andres’ nonprofit World Central Kitchen. Its goal: to donate more than 100,000 meals.

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