‘Serving salads in style’: Sweetgreen joins other plant-forward restaurants in Evanston


Daily file photo by Maia Spoto

Sweetgreen, located at 1601 Sherman Ave., features customizable salads and warm bowls and aims to provide convenient and fresh food.

Jessica Ma, Reporter

In a compostable, hexagonal bowl, a colorful salad of leafy greens, cherry-red tomatoes, blackened chicken and more await.

Sweetgreen opened its doors last month at 1601 Sherman Ave., serving fresh salads, warm bowls and other dishes. As plant-based eating grows in popularity, Sweetgreen joins other plant-forward restaurants that have opened in Evanston, such as elephant + vine and Picnic.

Medill junior Sara Frank, a student consultant for Sweetgreen Evanston, said she is excited to see more local options for quick, fresh meals. Across cities, the national restaurant chain is consistently good, Frank said. 

“Sweetgreen stands out in that it’s a well-known chain that people already recognize with a good app and rewards system,” Frank said. 

Shortly after graduating from Georgetown University, Nicolas Jammet, Nathaniel Ru and Jonathan Neman launched Sweetgreen in 2007. Centering convenient yet fresh food, Sweetgreen aims to “reimagine fast food for a new era,” according to the company’s website.

The menu boasts a wide selection of salads with creative names, such as “Super Green Goddess” and “Guacamole Greens.” Customers can also build their own bowls with ingredients ranging from crispy rice to fresh peaches.

Kellogg Prof. Jake Teeny said Sweetgreen is appealing to many because it gives customers the ability to customize a meal to their specific diet. Customizable meals have seen growth with the emergence of Subway and Chipotle, he said. 

“One of the changes we’ve been seeing … is a preference for personalization,” Teeny said. “As we get more knowledge about what’s healthy for each individual, people are more inclined to try to find foods that maximize their own well-being.”

Sweetgreen is one of several plant-friendly dining choices in Evanston. Vegan restaurant elephant + vine, located at 719 Church St., offers items like cauliflower-based wings and Impossible burgers on its menu. At 1619N Chicago Ave., grab-and-go eatery Picnic features customizable mixed greens salads, grain bowls and more.

While these restaurants are located in Evanston, an interest in plant-forward options is growing across the country. Almost 40% of Americans are now actively trying to eat more plant-based foods, according to a 2018 NielsenIQ Homescan survey.

Teeny said the increasing preference for plant-based eating is the outcome of several factors. In a practical sense, he said, technology allows for greater capabilities to create plant-based foods, such as the Impossible burger and soy chorizo. 

Vegetarianism also has documented health and environmental benefits, Teeny said, and as new research emerges, people are becoming more interested in plant-based eating.

“It’s not just spinach for dinner — you can have all these gourmet vegetarian recipes,” Teeny said. “We’re seeing an increase in consumer demand, and therefore, an increase in businesses responding to that.” 

Though she is not vegetarian, Weinberg freshman Sydney Raucher, a Sweetgreen customer, generally does not eat a lot of meat. She said the restaurant’s menu accommodates her diet, as well as any dietary restrictions. 

Sweetgreen’s plant-forward approach is also better for the environment, Raucher said. When the academic year begins, Raucher said she plans to order from Sweetgreen once in a while — a break from dining hall food. 

“(Sweetgreen) is able to make really delicious things out of healthy foods,” Raucher said. “I always appreciate that.”

Kara Peeler contributed reporting.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JessicaMa2025

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