Sweetgreen, the salad chain founded in Georgetown nine years ago, is moving its headquarters to Los Angeles as it prepares to expand along the West Coast.
The company plans to keep its office in Northwest Washington and said it will not be laying off employees as a result of the move.
“We’re taking the company to the next level, from a regional company to a national one,” said co-founder Nicolas Jammet, 30. “California is the key to our future growth.”
The Los Angeles office is slated to open in February with 30 employees. The District office is set to shrink to 15 employees from the current 45.
The move comes less than a year after Sweetgreen opened its first West Coast eatery in Los Angeles. Since then, it has opened two more outposts in California, and has plans to use its new headquarters as a jumping off point to open more restaurants in the region.
“We are not going to be a company with one mega-spaceship headquarters,” Jammet said. “The goal is to spread our leadership so we can be as close to the community and our customers as possible.”
The company, which has become a darling among investors, has raised $95 million in venture capital funding to date. Its most recent round of funding brought in $35 million from T. Rowe Price in July. Earlier investors include Revolution Growth, the D.C. venture capital fund, and financial backers such as Gary Hirshberg, the founder and chairman of Stonyfield Farm; Scott Belsky, co-founder of online portfolio company Behance; and restaurateurs Danny Meyer and Daniel Boulud.
Jammet said he and his co-founders will continue to travel between Los Angeles, New York and the District on a weekly basis.
“The idea is to spread leadership around,” he said. “Our decision-making doesn’t necessarily happen nationally. We make decisions community by community.”
Jammet and his co-founders, Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru, opened the first Sweetgreen in August 2007, three months after graduating from Georgetown University. They were armed with $300,000 in funding from investors and used recipes they perfected in their dorm rooms.
The company has grown to 39 locations, including 20 in the Washington area. It also has a corporate office in New York with 10 employees, who will be unaffected by the move.
“We know that our success in California is the key to our growth nationally, just like being in D.C. all these years helped us unlock the East Coast,” Jammet said.