Establishments: Four locations in Washington, DC; one in Bethesda; and more on the way
Headquarters: Washington, DC
What they’ve done: In 2007 these new graduates of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, tired of spending money for lunch at local fast food joints, saw an opportunity for a sustainable, healthy, fast-casual option. Six months, a few recipes and some repurposed antique barn wood later, and the trio was off and running. Now the Green Restaurant Association-certified Sweetgreen is dispensing locally sourced and organic salads, wraps and tangy “sweetflow” yogurt.
Why we like them: Because they sweat the eco-friendly details. Not only is the food sustainably sourced and organic if possible, but the disposables are biodegradable, the takeout menus are printed on recycled paper that contains wildflower seeds and purchased wind power accounts for 100 percent of the electricity use.
What’s next: More units, possible LEED certification and a doubling-down on spreading the sustainability message through hiring and training practices and educational efforts. “We don’t hire for experience,” says Ru, 24. “We hire for passion and commitment.