Sweetgreen Is Testing A Location Where You Can't Buy Anything

Formed in a dorm room at Georgetown University in 2007, according to Business of Business, salad chain sweetgreen is opening a location unlike any other.

The company has made a name for itself thanks in part to its focus on innovative technology, landing on Fast Company's Most Innovative Company list four times over the course of five years. Even before the start of the pandemic, 50% of the company's orders came through its app, according to FastCasualCNBC says that number rose by 178% during the pandemic.

In 2020 sweetgreen introduced an online-only menu items as even more incentive for consumers to go digital. And later that year it announced a drive-thru concept that optimized digital orders for pick up via a special car lane, telling FastCasual, "Our guests have already built a relationship with our app and are familiar with using it to order for pick up. This format builds upon that behavior by further removing friction and allowing guests to access sweetgreen without even having to leave their vehicle."

Now sweetgreen is taking that commitment to digital ordering to the next level, with its first-ever digital pick up only location. Called sweetgreen pickup kitchen, per a press release sent to Tasting Table, the new location will be in Washington, D.C.'s Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood and open August 1. Conceived as a seamless grab-and-go storefront, there will be no indoor dining or front-line customer service. Instead, orders will be placed online (via sweetgreen's website or app) with customers collecting their food and drinks from special pick up shelves. Delivery will also be available through third-party apps, and there will be a patio for outdoor seating.

No one will take your order at new sweetgreen location

Washington, D.C.'s upcoming sweetgreen pickup kitchen isn't the first sweetgreen store to eliminate indoor seating. Its location in NYC's World Trade Center is also to-go only, according to Fast Casual. Like the proposed Mt. Vernon store, the WTC location features pick up stations; however, in New York customers can still place orders in person.

In hindsight, sweetgreen's August 2021 acquisition of Spyce — which CNBC explains is essentially a robotic kitchen – feels like a precursor to the chain's new grab-and-go experiments. Spyce's Infinite Kitchen, which produces both salads and warm food, is able to churn out 350 bowls per hour (via The Spoon).

Sweetgreen's new digital-only location is just one more step toward its goal of building what co-founder Jonathan Neman called a "food platform." He told Vox's Recode, "Our goal is to be a content creator and a food platform. So a full vertically integrated food system, from supply chain, production, content creation, and ordering." The content Neman is referring to is the food sweetgreen sells, with the co-founder describing the salads as "hits."