First Look: Sweetgreen to open digital-only pickup format

Marianne Wilson

Sweetgreen is set to unveil a location where customers can’t buy anything on-site.

The fast-casual salad chain will open its first-ever location dedicated exclusively to the pickup of digital orders on August 1, in Washington, D.C.’s Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood. The new format comes as Sweetgreen’s digital business continues to grow, accounting for 67% of its total revenue in 2021.

The new DC location will not have an inside dining area or front-service line. Instead, customers will place their orders via Sweetgreen's website, mobile app or participating third-party delivery services.  They will retrieve their orders from pick-up shelves inside the restaurant. The site will also feature an outdoor patio for dining.

Sweetgreen said the digital-only restaurant will provide “a frictionless grab-and-go experience” and also allow the company to move quickly to fulfill customer demand, and reach new customers in areas that would not otherwise support a full-size restaurant.

Other restaurant chains have also been experimenting with digital-only formats, including Taco Bell and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Sweetgreen, which went public last November, expects to open at least 35 new restaurants in 2022. It is looking to double its footprint in the next three to five years, and sees the potential for 1,000 locations by the end of the decade.

The digital-only restaurant is the second new format that Sweetgreen has announced this year. In March, it said it planned to pilot a new concept in Schaumburg, Ill., within the next year. The restaurant will feature the company’s first “sweetlane,” a drive-thru lane to increase convenience for digital customers.

[Read More: Sweetgreen to open at least 35 locations, pilot drive-thru in 2022]

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