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LA-Based Sweetgreen Aims to Become Among First $1 Billion Food Startups

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The fast casual salad company just keeps growing

Sweetgreen Century City
Courtesy Sweetgreen
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Los Angeles-based fast casual salad company Sweetgreen is swinging for the fences, aiming to join the ranks of so-called “unicorn” companies like Lyft, Uber, DoorDash, and WeWork. The unofficial moniker is reserved for those companies (usually found in tech) that have amassed outside investment money at a valuation of over $1 billion.

Fortune has news of the most recent investment round that Sweetgreen is currently going through, with aims of raising some $200 million from private sources. The valuation of the company, which has more than 80 locations across the country, would put them in the rarified unicorn company, along with less than 300 other start-ups in the world. CB Insights has a great round-up on what those companies look like.

Sweetgreen was founded in Washington D.C., but the company moved its headquarters to Culver City two years ago, in part to be closer to Silicon Valley and LA’s own thriving tech scene. As Fortune notes, Sweetgreen has consistently said that it considers itself a tech company that happens to trade in food, leaning on automation, apps, and scale to serve thousands of diners per day. “Like many tech companies, we want to disrupt,” the company said in a 2016 blog post.

The jump to a $1 billion valuation would certainly put Sweetgreen in some unique company, but it would not be alone in the food space at that price. Ballast Point Brewing out of San Diego sold back in 2015 for a cool $1 billion to Constellation Brands, while other brands like Firestone Walker and locally-started brewery Golden Road have similarly been snatched up for many millions of dollars over the years.