(Andre Chung/for The Washington Post)

Jonathan Neman, 30, founded the Sweetgreen salad and yogurt chain in 2007 with two friends from Georgetown University, Nick Jammet and Nate Ru. Since then, they have expanded to Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Their first West Coast store recently opened in Neman’s native Los Angeles. He lives in Washington and New York.

What did you think you would do after college?

I wanted to be an entrepreneur of some sort, something in the start-up world with music or technology, but not quite like this. I never worked in the food industry before.

How did you meet your co-founders?

Nick was the first person I met [at Georgetown]. Nate I met first day at school in Accounting 101. We were both from L.A., and L.A. people have a weird way of finding each other, maybe because we dress different.

How do L.A. people dress?

We wear tighter pants. Converse instead of boat shoes. Lakers T-shirts.

I read that you three raised $300,000 from friends, family and classmates. Did you have to pay them back? Do they get free salad for life?

[Laughs.] They do not get free salad for life. They are still shareholders of the company.

Name some kinks you worked out in the early days.

Ah, man! Everything. When it started we had very little understanding of operating a restaurant. When we opened that first store [on M Street], it was so small it forced us to keep things so simple.

A Boston writer once told you he thought Sweetgreen’s founders would be women. Do you get that a lot, that eating salad is unmasculine?

[Laughs.] I don’t think so. Our customers are almost evenly split between men and women. When we started it was much more women. Some men maybe go there because women are there.

Does being a salad guru do much for your love life?

Uh. [Laughs.] I have a girlfriend now. Maybe in a previous life.

Name your favorite unhealthy thing to eat.

I’m going to say there are so many things — a pork bun from Momofuku. I love to eat. Part of why we created Sweetgreen is it allows you to eat other things at other times. It isn’t this prescriptive, preachy, “You have to eat this all the time.”

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