An Interview with Rachel Chemerynski of Sweetgreen
Sweetgreen is something of a food sensation these days; for anyone who has had the pleasure of eating at one of their stores, you know that local, slow-grown food tastes incredible when served up fast as part of their seasonal menu. With a commitment to sustainability and food that fuels our bodies and souls, it’s no wonder we’ve got a bit of a crush on this ever-expanding brand.
We connected with Rachel Chemerynski of Sweetgreen (and The W.E.L.L. Summit’s L.I.V.E. W.E.L.L. marketplace exhibitor) to talk about the growing brand’s ethos, living healthy and how the Sweetgreen’s heart has captured the attention (and loyalty) of our tummies.
The W.E.L.L. Summit: Congratulations on such rapid growth and huge success! As consumers, we love what Sweetgreen delivers: fresh, healthy food with a focus on locally sourced produce. What do you think the appeal Sweetgreen is to your consumer base at large? Is it the same reasons we love Sweetgreen?
Rachel Chemerynski: We’re taking the salad concept further than it’s gone before: We’re educating our customers where their food is coming from and in that, we’re different from the typical salad shop. We’ve created a lifestyle brand: Sweetgreen is committed to giving our customers an experience. Our food is always fresh. We shift the menu 5 times a year to ensure we’re using what is in season; our head chef creates recipes around what’s local to the region. We’re excited that our beverages and salad dressings have been recreated with less sugar. We think it’s the holistic experience that has made us so appealing.
WS: One of Sweetgreens’ core values is sustainability. What are some of the sustainability practices employed company wide?
RC: We take into account everything from the food to the atmosphere. Sweetgreen is committed to thinking into the future, so we make sure all of our decisions are long-lasting and long-standing. Everything from the design of a store to the food itself is sourced locally. We consider all levels of sustainability; we use sustainable wood for the tables. We’re firm believers in supporting the local community where we open, so we try to use existing buildings, and sometimes we’re lucky enough to use reclaimed wood from old bowling alleys, too!
WS: How do you vet your farms to ensure they meet your high standards, and that you’ll enjoy a lasting relationship?
RC: Our food and beverage team meets creates relationships with farmers first— before the store even opens in any given community. We once had a company outing where we went out crabbing to fully appreciate the hard work that goes into fishing and farming! We have a “Meet the Farmer” feature on our site that really showcases all the hard work and dedication that goes into the food we use. http://sweetgreen.com/community/
WS: Food is so important. It plays a huge part in our social fabric, and of course we can’t live without it, yet it’s also the source of controversy with the concern over GMOs. What is the future for Sweetgreen as the landscape of farming changes?
RC: Working with trusted farmers helps ensure that our food is healthy and wholesome. We source locally whenever possible, we use organic as much as possible. Our farmers are carefully vetted, and that has made all the difference.
WS: Living a balanced, healthy lifestyle seems to be at the forefront of so many people’s minds these days. What’s the one thing in wellness you’re seeing that you’re most excited about?
RC: I think we’re most excited about people starting to really care again. Consumers want to know where their food, makeup, skincare come from. How does it all effect our overall wellness? I’m excited to see 20 and 30 somethings educate themselves and people of all ages becoming curious.
WS: What made you want to be a part of The W.E.L.L. Summit?
RC: The W.E.L.L. Summit brought together like-minded brands with similar goals, and Sweetgreen wants to be at the heart of such conversations! Being able to support each other in this journey and making a difference… Boston is a very special market, and the growth here has been incredible. To be able to converse with members of the community that support us and share our vision—it was a natural fit.
WS: How do you live W.E.L.L.?
RC: I’m a health coach and a writer (www.healthy-chicks.com) , so I’m very passionate about caring for my mind, body and soul. I surround myself with positive people, I run, I do yoga. But most of all, I try to make decisions that will foster wellness in my life, every day.
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