Sweetgreen is Food On Demand’s next Outstanding Operator.

The chain is being recognized for its cutting-edge technology and off-premises strategies that are aimed at meeting consumers where they are. 

“We have a wide array of channels for customers that are really meant to meet their needs day-by-day, hour-by-hour,” said Casey Lipton, lead, product marketing at Sweetgreen. 

This includes an app for first-party (or native) ordering, for delivery and pickup orders. Sweetgreen has designed its app to make consumers feel like it was built for them. 

Menu items are all easily customizable and consumers gain access to specific offerings and deals on the app. Its loyalty program, Sweetpass, provides exclusive menu items, discounts, merchandise and personalized challenges to win rewards. 

The ability to earn and redeem awards is also available in-store, following requests from customers. 

Sweetgreen also offers a delivery batch program dubbed Outpost. Launched in 2018, the unique channel enables workplaces, primarily offices, to have their own dedicated pickup shelf inside of their location or lobby. 

“It’s a huge perk to employees that have scheduled drops each day and it makes getting their lunch as absolutely seamless as possible,” said Amie Hawksworth, head of growth channels at Sweetgreen. 

Additionally, its catering program has been live for about a year and a half. The avenue has been successful so far with plans to evolve and grow the channel, as demand upticks with workers back in the office.

For delivery fulfillment, Sweetgreen has relationships with all the major third-party delivery providers, “to better reach consumers” but to also “leverage these marketplaces, primarily to drive awareness and customer acquisition on our first-party platform.”

To handle any mishaps or customer concerns, the brand has an in-house customer experience team available around the clock. 

Tapping robotics to streamline orders

On the technology front, Sweetgreen has tapped robotics. 

The salad hub launched two Infinite Kitchens last year, the first in Naperville, IL, and the second in Southern California. 

The Infinite Kitchen system robotically assembles salads and bowls, with the ability to make up to 500 meals an hour—50 percent faster than humans can. The robot-run models were created with Spyce, the automation restaurant company Sweetgreen purchased in 2021. 

Sweetgreen’s Infinite Kitchen

“It’s really fast, it’s really accurate, and it helps to elevate the team member experience as well because it continues to make them an integral part of the process—whether it’s prepping the ingredients that are fresh every day or focusing on hospitality when they have that interaction with the customer that’s coming in to pick up their bowl,” said Hawksworth. 

Consumers order using a tablet that instructs the robotic production line to drop ingredients that were prepped beforehand into bowls on a conveyor. Guests receive their meals in about three to five minutes. 

In its latest earnings call, Sweetgreen reported average tickets at those units were over 10 percent higher than in surrounding markets. 

The chain plans to open between 23 and 27 restaurants in 2024, seven of which will contain Infinite Kitchen technology.

The Outstanding Operators Program is highlighting 20 innovative brands taking creative paths to success with all things off-premises. Winners receive a $1000 charitable donation to the organization of choice and will be recognized on-stage at the 2024 Food On Demand Conference. Register today!

The Outstanding Operator program is sponsored by these industry-leading partners.