- Sweetgreen has launched catering, the company wrote in an email to Restaurant Dive.
- The company began rolling out the channel in select markets at the end of 2022, starting with Washington, D.C., and has added markets and increased its delivery radius into 2023.
- As more workers returning to offices, Sweetgreen has been growing catering without paid marketing. Over 80% of catering revenue has come from workplace events and team meetings.
Sweetgreen began piloting catering in 20 select stores in Q3 2022, CEO Jonathan Neman said during a November earnings call. During the pilot, average order values were over $500 and average weekly catering sales tripled during the quarter, Neman said. Organic catering growth continued into Q4, doubling in size during the period, he said during a February earnings call.
The fast casual chain, which had a heavy presence in urban markets pre-COVID-19, struggled with a slow return to office and shifted its development strategy last year to a mix of urban and suburban stores. Sweetgreen’s Outpost program, which delivers orders to office buildings without a fee, was paused during the pandemic and restarted in 2022. Outpost has grown steadily, and the chain is focusing on new launches and improving existing accounts to grow average order volumes, Neman said in the February earnings call.
As office workers have returned, Sweetgreen has seen increased interest from employers looking to provide catered meals. Sweetgreen’s catering service offers flexible delivery and the ability to choose dietary restrictions, such as vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan, the company said. Customers have the option of ordering individual salads and grain bowls alongside desserts, beverages and sides.
Several chains launched or enhanced their catering programs as workers returned to offices within the last year. Subway created an “easy order” option within its catering program, allowing guests to choose from pre-selected options. Bloomin’ has leaned on catering in the past year and launched the channel at Outback Steakhouse in April. It has been growing the channel at Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s, while its Carrabba’s brand is a leader in the segment, the company said during a February earnings call.