Fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen announced today is has acquired meal-delivery service Galley Foods (via Food Dive). This is Sweetgreen’s first-ever acquisition. The deal was for an undisclosed amount of stock and cash.
Galley Foods is a Washington, D.C.-based service that emphasizes fresh food and clean ingredients for the heat-and-serve meals it delivers to customers. That message is in line with Sweetgreen’s business, also based out of D.C., which places huge emphasis on local sourcing, whole foods, and other elements of health and sustainability.
Galley also brings to the table what Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman called “unparalleled insight into delivery” in a recent press release. The acquisition gives Sweetgreen access to Galley’s logistics technology as well as its abilities around live courier operations. According to the press release, Galley’s CEO, Alan Clifford, will become Sweetgreen’s VP of Logistics. Galley Foods will continue to operate in the D.C. area, while Clifford and his team will join the Sweetgreen team.
Sweetgreen has been one of those companies at the forefront of the off-premises movement in the food industry (which is one of the reasons the company landed on our Food Tech 25 list this year). Besides offering delivery through its own website and app as well as through third parties such as Grubhub and Postmates, the chain also maintains its delivery-catering hybrid service called Outpost, where customers can retrieve food they’ve ordered online at pickup stations during lunchtime. WeWork, Nike, and Headspace are just some of the companies offering these stations to workers.
With the Galley Foods acquisition, Sweetgreen might well be looking for ways to have more control over its off-premises options. Outpost already requires customers to order via Sweetgreen’s system, rather than through a third-party app. Purchasing a company like Galley Foods suggests the same might eventually be true for Sweetgreen’s delivery orders. It’s no secret that restaurants have their share of troubles with third-party services: there’s little control over branding or customer service, and the fees restaurants pay per order can impact often thin margins. A company that notably tried third-party delivery then backed out of it is Olive Garden, who said its customers weren’t satisfied wit the service. Might Sweetgreen be next on the list to reign delivery back beneath its own roof?