Bougie line-inducing salad chain Sweetgreen is opening a big, bilevel new “incubator” in Manhattan later this year. The California-based company tells Wall Street Journal that the first so-called “Sweetgreen 3.0” will be located at Park Avenue and 32nd Street — with new composed dishes and design changes.
It’s a testing grounds of sorts for changes at all the other locations. The menu will have as many as 22 options at a time, and it will nix the assembly line ordering format, instead having an open kitchen where some composed dishes will be cooked, though the founders did not say what that those dishes will be. A “market area” will offer product samples, including drinks and those bites cooked in the kitchen, and the location will also have upstairs seating.
The ordering format will change, too. Staff will take diners’ orders with a tablet, or people can order off kiosks and on the Sweetgreen app. Once an order is ready, it will show up on a board at the restaurant. And anybody picking up orders can eventually use a new setup where sensors will let people know exactly where their salad is on the shelves. It’s “intended to be a cross between an Apple store and a farmers’ market,” the Journal writes; the restaurant will have increased emphasis on the farms that the company works with.
Eater has reached out to Sweetgreen for more details.
The new location is the next step in growth for the company, which now has nearly 100 locations and a more than $1 billion valuation. It’s not unusual for chains to create testing grounds to try out changes with a smaller group of customers. Last year, Shake Shack opened a test kitchen in the West Village that worked unlike any other one of the outposts, and Taco Bell, Chipotle, and McDonald’s have all also experimented with them, too.
Founders Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman, and Nathaniel Ru tell the Journal that a second experimental location of Sweetgreen will open in New York, too, though it will not look the same as this one.
But like with other chain test kitchens, anything that happens at Sweetgreen 3.0 could show up at locations across the country.
Stay tuned for more.