On October 28, the fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen launched its newest restaurant type. Lauded as an incubator for future stores, the Culver City, Calif-based chain’s latest move is to eliminate the assembly line and double down on digital ordering.
This ‘3.0’ location at 32nd Street and Park Avenue in New York City will serve as an innovative hub and testing ground for the company, which has about 100 locations in the U.S.
The most obvious change here is the focus on digital ordering and removal of the assembly line. The kitchen is out of view. And customers order via the app, or in-store at tablets or with employees also holding tablets. Sweetgreen is calling this ordering style “concierge ordering.”
Customers waiting to order in-store can sample new menu items while they wait. At the bi-level store, customers can also shop at a small market, where fresh produce, sauces and cookbooks are displayed.
After ordering, a large screen displays customers’ names when their salads are ready. Salads are picked up from a shelving unit. Sweetgreen is working on an alert system synched to its app, which will notify customers that their order is up. Sweetgreen’s app currently has one million users, a 70% increase year-over-year, according to the company.
The assembly line has become a staple of fast-casual chains, but it’s caused plenty of problems. Long lines at peak hours have deterred customers from visiting locations and customers that choose to wait can get frustrated.
This move away from assembly lines eliminates associated headaches and borrows some tips and tricks from Shake Shack, which removed many cashiers and installed tablets for orders in 2018.
In September, Sweetgreen raised over $150 million in funding for use on emerging technology. The latest funding round values the brand at $1.6 billion.
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