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The billion-dollar-plus salad darling Sweetgreen has arrived in the Centennial State, and, considering Coloradans’ propensity for healthier lifestyles and the state’s reputation as a breeding ground for fast casual concepts, it’s about time. If you know the restaurant chain, you may have already bought into its mission: Serve healthy, real food, preferably sourced from sustainable local farms and makers. If not, here’s your chance: Three Sweetgreen restaurants are coming to the Front Range this summer and fall.
The first local shop (the 104th for the brand) opens today, June 11, in Cherry Creek, and it’s one of only a few Sweetgreens selling beer and cider. On June 26, another location will open across from Union Station inside the Coloradan development, and a Boulder outpost will follow this fall.
“You could argue that Colorado could have been way earlier, but we’re excited to be there, and we’re coming in hard,” says co-founder and chief concept officer Nicolas Jammet. “There are so many exciting communities and cities that we wanted to get to. We went from the East Coast to the West Coast, and now we’ve started filling in in between.”
Sweetgreen is already mega popular in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. It began in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood in 2007, differentiating itself from the sea of fast casual chains with its firm ethos of health, transparency, and sustainability. The company boasts that everything is made from scratch daily, using local ingredients when possible, and adhering to high standards for animal welfare and environmental virtue.
When Sweetgreen enters a new market, one of the first things it does is look for farmers and food producers to partner with. “When we go to a new city, we start by learning as much from the food community as possible,” Jammet says. “We start to get connected and we visit the farms. It’s very relationship driven, and it requires us spending a lot of time in the area.”
That local food investigation is how Buena Vista’s Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy’s feta made its way into Sweetgreen’s roasted carrot and feta bowl. “A Sweetgreen rep reached out to me out of the blue last fall and asked if he could come out and visit and tour the dairy,” says Jumpin’ Good owner Dawn Jump. “We had a great time; I showed him all around. We visited the goats and walked in the pastures and watched the cheesemakers.”
Jump says that she hadn’t heard of Sweetgreen before they reached out to her, but that the relationship has been a positive one. “I was super pleased that they found us, and it’s been a seamless relationship so far. They actually send a truck straight to the dairy. I don’t have to figure out how to get that cheese down the mountain!”
Other Colorado brands featured on Sweetgreen’s debut menu of salads and bowls include Colorado Sun Tofu, Beeyond the Hive honey, Haystack Mountain goat cheese, Raquelitas Tortillas corn chips, and Ela Family Farms peaches. The chicken, fish, greens, and most of the produce for the brand’s bowls and salads, however, come from out of state. A representative for Sweetgreen says that the company is working on sourcing these core items from Colorado, and that it will use more local products once the summer menu debuts. (In addition to its core offerings, Sweetgreen has seasonal menu items that rotate five times per year.) Almost everything on the menu clocks in at fewer than 700 calories and costs between $11 and $12.
Sweetgreen is requiring face masks for guests, increasing sanitization, and employing dedicated safety compliance concierges to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. If you visit on opening day, it will donate a meal for every one sold to healthcare workers at Denver Health, St. Joseph Hospital, or Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center.
Sweet Green in Cherry Creek is currently open 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. daily; 275 Saint Paul St.