The Rules of Sweetgreen

Are you prepared?

11.01.16
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Do you Sweetgreen? It’s a new habit for me. I held off for years before I started doing it, and by doing it, I mean scheduling desk salad lunches the way you’d schedule a 4 p.m. “touchbase” at work, or a 9 a.m. tooth cleaning at your dentist.

(Sweetgreen-ing is such an entirely American phenomenon. It’s really lunch as a problem to be solved rather than something to enjoy and savor.)

Anyway, I held off and I held off and then, I finally buckled thanks to a bulletproof combination of relative ease, low cost, healthiness and proximity. As of this writing, I’ve Sweetgreened 13 work lunches over the past month. “Welcome back, Leslie,” the site says. It has my credit card stored, it knows my preferred location and past order. Like Amazon, it’s just so easy. The chain has more than 50 locations nationwide, and a handful more are coming. Soon it will be everywhere.

The first rule of Sweetgreen is: You must plan your Sweetgreen approach in advance. Do not just roll on up to Sweetgreen when you’ve reached peak hunger. Do not stroll over there circa 1:30 p.m. when you maybe had a chia pudding for breakfast and you’ve reached the point of caffeine-addled stomach emptiness where everything is overly urgent and you don’t know whether to laugh or cry and is your hand shaking a little? Is your eye twitching?

Because if you wait too long, you will not be able to handle Sweetgreen. Everyone and their sister is in line ahead of you. The queue snakes to and fro around barriers like the security line at the airport that one time you almost missed your flight at LaGuardia. People are calmly tapping away at their cell phones like this is all well and good and normal, but it’s too late for you. You eject, and spin around to find yourself standing out on the street corner, cold and even more desperate than you were before. If this was Super Mario Bros., you’d be sent back to level one. Fail.

The second rule of Sweetgreen is: If you are going to go in person, be on the ball and know your order. Do not get to the front and stand there stumped. That’s like standing on an escalator on the left side, which is always the side that people walk up. No one has time for that. Approximately 10,000 people need to eat mixed salad on a daily basis, and they are all standing behind you right now. Make up your goddamn mind. Organic arugula, shredded kale, chopped romaine — it’s all the same, right? It’s all green chum in your belly. I’m sorry, did you just…ask a question? No. This is not the time for questions. Steelhead is trout! *Tap, tap, tap.* That’s my foot, I’m actually tapping right now in frustration-panic. I might tap dance right out of here before someone slops my hot chickpeas into my salad bowl.

Plan out your attack and know your order in advance — those are the main two rules. Oh, and bring a debit or credit card if your Sweetgreen is one of the locations that is “experimenting” with going cashless, because in the dystopian future, our overlords will have all our salad preferences cataloged.

If you’ve made it this far down the page, you should know that there are more tenets of Sweetgreen to abide by — all sourced from true experts, aka other people in the Man Repeller offices whose habits are more ingrained than mine — but I cannot dig into all of them right now. I’m so, so hungry, and I’ve missed my morning salad order window. Now it’s not going to be ready until ~1:30 p.m., or even later. I have no idea how I will make it ’til then. Someone, please, retrieve it from the shelf for me. I have listed the pro-level rules below; feel free to add yours in the comments.

1. Get the app and utilize the rewards system.
2. Befriend the workers there because a.) they are really nice and b.) if you get to know them they are much more likely to give you more generous toppings.
3. On that toppings tip: Pause in-between listing toppings to give them time to decide to give you a little extra of previously listed topping.
4. The pesto vinaigrette is really delicious but really salty.
5. The cashew dressing is good but has an aftertaste where it’s best if you leave to “work from home” right after eating, if you catch my drift.
6. Not every location gets every seasonal ingredient (like in the summer when jicama just never arrived).
7. The mushrooms are only good when they are a dark color. Don’t get the mushrooms if they look “pale.” This is also a general rule of salad thumb.
8. Get a grain bowl if the kale looks watery. If the kale IS watery and you complain, they are likely to refund you.
9. The pears are ALWAYS hard so if you like soft pears, skip.
10. If the apples are McIntosh instead of Gala, skip.
11. This is an obvious one, but they won’t mix the dressing in if you order ahead and it’s a total disaster doing it yourself, so just wait in line. Just do the work. You’ll either spend more time mixing it in for yourself at your desk after or you’ll use up all of the dressing on the toppings which is not the best economical use of dressing OR toppings.
12. Another obvious one but Monday through Wednesday is busiest and Thursday and Friday are usually quiet. Monday through Wednesday = apologizing to your body for the weekend via kale. Like the gym on January 2nd.

Photo via iStock.

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