We heard rumblings earlier this year that fast-casual chain Sweetgreen was planning a next-gen store with a “high-tech, high-touch experience,” and said location finally opened for business this week in Manhattan.
“After 2 years of hard work, today we debut sweetgreen 3.0 on 32nd and Park. It’s our first concept store that combines digital and physical shopping with tasting experiences,” Sweetgreen CEO and cofounder Jonathan Neman wrote in a LinkedIn post.
Dubbed “Sweetgreen 3.0,” the new store is “intended to be a cross between an Apple store and a farmers’ market,” as the Wall Street Journal put it. Customers can order from so-called concierges wielding iPads or use self-order kiosks and mobile app ordering to select food and customize orders. When an order is ready, it shows up on a digital board that, from the sound of it, is reminiscent of Brightloom’s front-of-house pickup system.
The 3.0 store is also a testing ground for future changes that could spread to other Sweetgreen locations. Notably, that includes getting rid of the Chipotle-like assembly line ordering format out front and prepping all meals in the back of house. Instead of shuffling down the line watching their salads get assembled, customers can try samples from a tasting bar while they wait for their food. The two-level store also includes a “retail market” that sells cookbooks, sauces, and other items.
The next-gen store is just the latest in a series of tech-focused initiatives Sweetgreen has launched recently. In June, the company made its first-ever acquisition by purchasing tech-centric delivery service Galley Foods. More recently, in September, the company raised $150 million and launched its own in-house delivery program to complement deals already in place with third-party services.
Proceeds from the opening day of Sweetgreen 3.0 will go towards nonprofit organization FoodCorps, with whom Sweetgreen works to get healthier foods into school Cafeterias.