Last week, we asked what it was like to work at Sweetgreen, the slick, pricey salad bowl chain of choice for affluent urbanites. Read on to learn the exquisite pleasures of serving lunch to the rich.
A Handy Guide to How Not to Act at Sweetgreen
I have been working in the Sweetgreen in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip and let me tell you, I feel just as weird about that. We get a lot of affluent Caucasian individuals who are willing to pay those monthly fees for equinox and soul cycle and rumble, we have doctor’s, celebrities, the list goes on.
As a worker, I felt that there had always been an inferiority complex applied between service workers in Sweetgreen and their customers. I now work on hot prep for this reason. Here are a few of my outstanding encounters with some customers.
Demographic of this customer: mid 30s Caucasian female, socio-economic status had to have been quite affluent with consideration to her Gucci shirt, Givenchy shoes, Gucci purse and wallet, Tom Ford eyewear, you get the picture.
I helped this guest to which I am obligated to state that premium items are extra and no... I cannot subcharge if you would like me to give you a portion of an extra portion. This chick wanted everything but just a little bit of everything. To which I kept repeating myself it will be extra and she said just ring it up... Well when her salad came up to $32 she tried throwing a pen at me, was cussing at me yelling and creating a big scene to which my reaction was “Hello everyone and welcome to Sweetgreen, thank you for your patience as I am working as efficiently as possible to provide the perfect experience for yourself. I will take this time to assist the next person in line”. She was mad. Cussed me out and whatever and managers just gave her a free salad... She just had to make a scene and leave in to her damn rolls Royce with a free $32 salad.... Alright.
Demographics: only difference between this customer and difference is gender and age. Mid-40s male
This man is a regular, and regulars get on my nerves in the regular. We as Sweetgreen servicemen are enforced to give a portion size no bigger than what the manual states (otherwise subject to corrective action) this guy demands I put in more kale to which I state “sir your bowl is currently up to portion, if you would like more I would need to get a new bowl and charge you for an extra bowl.” He stated that he gets his bowl there everyday and has never experienced such awful service and continued to demand extra kale. I said no. He claimed he would get me fired, so I smiled and said no. And we continued making the salad, at the end he asked for a manager, manager came and let him off with a free salad and told me I needed to provide better customer service...
Let me just say, when you piss these people off, they will run it to the extent of addressing it to corporate offices.
I’ve had people say that because we were out of something, they were entitled to a more premium topping... That is not the case. If we were out of tomatoes I’m not going to suddenly give you a piece of fish (worth $5 for about 3oz) because if tomatoes were here... They’re $.50...
If you do not say hi, how are you doing, they will state that you provide bad service.
Big pet peeves:
individuals who hold up the line listening to music and texting while we are trying to catch their attention.
People who ask for a bowl off the menu and after I ask “everything as is?” Their response is “yes, but no (shit ton of modifications)“.
People who want half of a portion of premium items.
People who said they wanted a certain topping then tell me to pick it off because they didn’t want it after all.
That one chick that says she wants egg but tells me to pick out all the yolk...
Why am I still working here? Flexible hours, pay raises are no challenge and being a hot prep helps me flow my frustrations from customers a slight bit better.
Better Values Than Chipotle
I’m a sweetgreen team member in the DMV area, saw your article, thought I could give some answers.
Most team members are paid under $15 in my area, but that’s pretty par for the industry. It’s better than most other similar places. We often get ex-chipotle employees come to the store because we pay better.
The “core values” honestly really do come through. It seems kind of silly but if someone I’m training asks me why we do something I can always pick a core value to match it. Sweetgreen is the only place I’ve worked where you ever hear about the “values” past day 1.
For racial dynamics, I’m currently the only white person at my store. I’ve worked at other sweetgreens too, and there’s only ever 1 or 2 white people.
If you are a current or former Sweetgreen employee who would like to share your workplace experience, email me.