Sweetgreen launches online-only menu items as it pushes into digital

  • Sweetgreen is launching meals that are available only through its mobile app, including the usual orders of award-winning chefs.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has used a similar strategy to drive more customers to use its mobile app.
  • Sweetgreen said its digital orders have soared 178% during the pandemic.

Sweetgreen is making another push for customers to order salads and warm bowls through its app as its digital orders have soared 178% during the coronavirus pandemic.

The privately held chain announced Wednesday a new collection of online-only dishes, including one series that spotlights the typical orders of award-winning chefs like Kwame Onwuachi and Missy Robbins. Sweetgreen co-CEO Nicolas Jammet said the idea has been in the works for more than a year to encourage customers to order something new, but the feature, known as "Collections," arrives as its digital sales are surging.

"With the pandemic, it's really important for us to think about how we can create an experience, a menu and an offering that really fits our customers' needs and gives them something more to interact with and experience," Jammet said.

On Monday, all of the proceeds from the Eat Like a Chef collection will be donated to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which is lobbying for more government intervention to save smaller eateries. Beyond the Eat Like a Chef collection, the new feature will also include a series that highlights seasonal ingredients, another focused on dairy-free meals and one for crispy rice bowls. 

The online-only availability of the meals is meant to coax even more customers to order through the Sweetgreen app. The chain isn't the only one to use the strategy. Fast-casual rival Chipotle Mexican Grill, for example, has offered similar online-only entrees, like the orders of U.S. Women's National Soccer Team members and diet-focused Lifestyle Bowls.

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