Tiffany Smith, a resident of Ward 7, wants to have more healthy food options and got the shock of her life when she found out that her neighbors felt that way too.
On Aug. 4, Smith sent out a message on Ward 7 and eastern central Prince George’s County’s Nextdoor, a private social network, to propose approaching Sweetgreen, an eatery that specializes in salads and fruit-based beverages, about setting up an operation east of the Anacostia River. She received dozens of responses, with most supporting her and filling out links to Sweetgreen general contact and real estate team survey form.
“This shows the power of the internet and such platforms as Nextdoor,” Smith said. “As a millennial, I am very interested in D.C.’s restaurant scene and I want to see it evolve here in Ward 7. There is a lack of healthy food options east of the Anacostia River and that needs to be changed.”
Sweetgreen started in the Georgetown neighborhood of the District with Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman, three months after they graduated from Georgetown University’s undergraduate business school in August 2007. They wanted to open a fast, casual restaurant where customers could either create their own salads online or through mobile devices and have them delivered.
Sweetgreen has its corporate headquarters in Culver City, Calif., and over 70 stores in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the District and Virginia. In the District, 42 locations are operating, with some serving as outposts for public and private employers only.
There are also sit-down locations.
The Navy Yard location is the closest to neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.
Smith understands the arguments such as “the average median income is lower” east of the river and “people east of the river don’t eat salad blah blah blah”, she said in her post.
“This post is for the believers and individuals willing to take a shot at something seemingly impossible,” she said. “This is a D.C. born company. I don’t know their financials or their moral history. I just like their salads.”
One post said “I think this is a great idea because I’m quite sure a number of customers live east of the river” while another who lives in the Park at Addison Road Metro community in Capitol Heights, Md., encouraged Smith to reach out to his housing association president who has “some connections to our county government and might be able to contact those in government who might assist you in executing your vision and mission.”
However, one post who resides in Benning Ridge in the District said a stumbling block may be Sweetgreen’s policy of not accepting cash for payment. Smith acknowledged the concern, noting many East of the river residents don’t utilize credit or debit cards and said it’s worth asking Sweetgreen about.
The Sweetgreen located in Navy Yard confirmed to the Washington Informer that it will accept cash starting in November.
Smith said she has contacted the company through email but hasn’t gotten a response. The Informer repeatedly reached out to Sweetgreen’s media representative through email and phone calls but didn’t receive a response by press time.
The non-response won’t deter Smith, she said.
“We as a community need to be on the front end and not the back end,” she said. “We will continue to engage Sweetgreen until we get a response. We aren’t going to wait for developers to tell us what they want to bring to Ward 7 or Ward 8, we will be proactive.”