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Zagat: Eatery Brings Farm-to-Table to Fast-Casual Dining

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Salads are made to order with fresh local produce at a new branch of a popular salad chain. Zagat editor James Mulcahy filed the following report.

Sweetgreen is not your average grab-and-go lunch chain.

The concept, which also has locations in D.C. and Philadelphia, was founded by three college students during their tenure at Georgetown University, and a youthful vibe pervades the space.

"We're a food company, but at the end of the day it's about the experience. I feel like we have that young, start-up energy and we feed off of it. At the coach level and in the store level, we really get to interact with the founders a lot," says Greg LaFauci, NYC Area Leader at Sweetgreen.

The chain has brought a farm-to-table ethos to the fast casual sector—many of the ingredients are provided by purveyors in the tri-State area.

"Sweetgreen, I think, is different than other salad chains because of our sourcing. We really focus on local, organic, sustainably farmed foods. And a lot of the time it's a little bit harder, the work that we do, but at the end of the day that sense of accomplishment is what's worth it," LaFauci says.

The menu is curated based on what's currently in season. You'll see the lineup change as ingredients become available in the surrounding area.

"We have fresh herbs right on the line, so whole basil and cilantro that we cut to order right there. Local ingredients like asparagus, the first vegetable crop of the spring, as well as fresh mozzarella made from Maplebrook Farms up in Vermont. The asparagus will be gone in a few weeks so you have to get it while it's here," says LaFauci.

By celebrating local produce outside of a fancy restaurant environment, the chain has developed die-hard fans. Expect to see more locations sprout up around town.

"We are excited to open up in Brooklyn, in Williamsburg, hopefully by September this year. We're still actively looking to find some other homes here for us in the market," LaFauci says.

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