Eleven years ago, three college kids opened a salad shop in a tiny, green-roofed storefront in Georgetown. Sweetgreen has since become one of DC’s biggest fast-casual success stories with locations around the country, and an upgraded flagship location that opened last year. Meanwhile, that 500-square-foot shop where it all began has been empty for months.
That’s about to change. Sweetgreen’s owners are transforming their original digs into a market called The Tavern, set to open at the end of August. Bonus: they’re bringing back their frozen yogurt (aka “Sweetflow”).
“We figured what better way to use this building than to celebrate the farmers and growers and producers and all the food that really helped our business grow?” says co-founder Nicolas Jammet.
The “full-time indoor farmers market” will sell many of the same products and produce used in Sweetgreen’s salads, whether it’s greens, cheese from Maryland’s FireFly Farms, or Soom tahini. It will also showcase smaller or younger farms that might not have the capacity to supply all of Sweetgreen’s DC-area shops. For people who want a regular supply of goods, The Tavern will have a community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscription program.
Ferments from Gordy’s Pickle Jar, chocolate from Harper Macaw, and drinks from Misfit Juicery will also be among the products available. Jammet says they’re planning to collaborate with chefs on new items, too. Nick Wiseman, co-owner of Whaley’s and Little Sesame, will help curate the products and manage operations.
One thing you won’t find? Salad. That said, the team may consider packaged grab-and-go salads down the line. Also, just because it’s called “The Tavern,” doesn’t mean it’s a bar. Rather, the name comes from a burger chain called Little Tavern, which previously occupied the space. At one point, Little Tavern had around 70 locations in the region, and you can still find some of its distinct cottage-like buildings with green roofs around town.
Sweetgreen hosts a farmers’ market in the parking lot of its newer Georgetown shop on Wisconsin Ave., but Jammet points out that the neighborhood doesn’t really have a lot of grocery stores.
“I remember living in Georgetown for 10 years, and if you wanted to get some good FireFly cheese or you wanted to get some produce when things are in season, you had to either go to Dupont Circle or go up to Whole Foods [in Glover Park].”
There’s also a dearth of fro-yo in the neighborhood since the shutter of Pinkberry, which The Tavern aims to remedy. At one point, the sweet treat was a prominent part of Sweetgreen’s menu. There was even a “Sweetflow Mobile” that roamed the streets in the early days of DC’s food truck scene. But the company stopped offering the dessert in 2014. As Jammet explained at the time: “The yogurt was the only thing that was a lot harder to innovate on. So we decided, ‘let’s simplify.’” He further explains now that as Sweetgreen launched its app and expanded its pick-up business, the owners decided the space devoted to fro-yo was more valuable as shelving for to-go orders.
“But as all good things that go away, they’ve got to come back, so Sweetflow is coming back here,” Jammet says. “It will just be a fun way to celebrate part of our original history and have a little nostalgia.”
This story has been updated to reflect that The Tavern is now set to open at the end of August.