Salad days

Trendy salad chain sweetens up South Congress with first Austin location

Trendy salad chain sweetens up South Congress with first Austin locale

Sweetgreen's salads woke up like this. Sweetgreen

Gen Z-friendly salad chain Sweetgreen is finally coming to Austin. A rep for the Washington, D.C.-based concept confirmed that it will be opening a location at 1007 S. Congress Ave. in early 2020.

Still in the early stages, details about the Austin location are slim, but the rep did share that the outpost — like all Sweetgreen stores — would be unique to the community.

Founded in 2007 by Georgetown University students Jonathan Neman, Nicolas Jammet, and Nathaniel Ru, Sweetgreen has become one of the fast-casual sector's most talked about concepts, buoyed by a combination of feel-good corporate ethos and tech savvy.

The menu has a format similar to homegrown salad shops like Leaf and Baby Greens, borrowing New American cuisine’s global palate and commitment to sustainable, local sourcing. In addition to offering standbys like baby spinach, carrots, and red onion on the build-your-own menu, the restaurant adds za’atar breadcrumbs, blackened chicken thighs, and assortment of herbs, and local feta and goat cheese.

Many of the salads are made in collaboration with some of the culinary world’s biggest names, including Dan Barber (Blue Hill at Stone Barns), Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese), David Chang (Momofuku), and Jessica Koslow (Sqirl). Closer to home, James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd contributed the Southern Chop Bowl when the brand debuted in Houston this summer.

Sweetgreen is also well-known for adopting a cashless policy — a decision the company said speeds up service and increases employee safety, among other benefits. The move, which excluded those who preferred cash or had no access to cards, was criticized by some as being classist.

The company reversed course in April, acknowledging the flak via a Medium post. “To accomplish our mission, everyone in the community needs to have access to real food,” the company wrote. It did not address how $12 salads fit in with that democratic sentiment.