Back when I was a freshman at Georgetown, I heard about some kid named Nic who would cook duck in his Harbin Hall dorm kitchen. After weekend trips home to New York (apparently, his family was in the restaurant biz), he’d lug a bird back to campus to host family-style dinners for his hall friends—a pretty big step up from Leo’s cafeteria across the street. For Nic, storing whole, fresh ducks in a freshman dorm freezer was no big deal.
Now, four years later, Nic Jammet and his three buddies—two of whom were on that original dorm floor—have teamed up to create the soon-to-open salad shop Sweetgreen, which will also sell their Sweetflow frozen yogurt. Located next to Philly Cheesesteak Factory and Philly Pizza—two notoriously grubby late-night Hoya spots—Sweetgreen hopes to add a fresher flavor to the corner of 34th and M streets.
In the same vein as the New York salad chain Chop’t—which is slated to open its first local branch in DC’s Penn Quarter this summer—Sweetgreen lets diners customize salads from a medley of greens, cheeses, meats, and crunchy toppings. Jammet and his gang didn’t limit options to boring old iceberg or grilled chicken. The toss-in lineup includes organic baby arugula and spinach, paprika shrimp, and salami. And you won’t find ranch among the nine handcrafted dressings. Instead, think hummus-lemon, cilantro-lime-jalapeno, and carb-free sweet roasted garlic.
After the four partners nailed down real-estate details this spring—Sweetgreen will be located in a former Little Tavern hamburger hut, the original green roof still intact—they started the fun part: Taste-testing salad combos so that indecisive customers could have “chef-crafted” options. “We definitely want avocado represented,” says partner Jonathan Neman, a Southern California native who grew up on Mexican cuisine. Thus, they’ll offer a “guacamole greens” salad of mesclun, avocados, jalapeño, red onion, and crushed tortillas.
For dessert, there’s Sweetflow frozen yogurt, a business move inspired by West Coast fro-yo phenom Pinkberry. The plain and specialty flavors are made from live, active cultures and can be jazzed up by such toppings as lychee, ladyfingers, and Kix cereal.
Though the just-graduated Hoyas are younger than most restaurateurs, they were able to get the attention of Core Architecture and Design, a local firm responsible for the looks of Mie N Yu, Curry Club, and Brasserie Beck. The opening date was originally set for “graduation week” and has been postponed a few times since, but Sweetgreen plans to open its doors next week.
Sweetgreen, 3333 M St., NW; 202-337-9338; eatsweetgreen.com.