Can we talk about Sweetgreen? And the stylish lettuce mafia that bursts forth each day to wait in the chicest line in town for an order of Guacamole Greens?
I can mark the phases of my life like rings on a tree, or in this case, like fork marks on the bottom of a plastic-made-from-corn salad bowl, by my visits to Sweetgreen.
It has been a landmark in my existence since it's arrival in '07, arguably the year the world (or at least my friends) came back from studying abroad and discovered lettuce.
I call this the years of salad-awakening.
I remember the first shop opening one dusty summer day on Georgetown's M street. It looked like something straight out of The Shire, a tiny little white and green house nestled between towering nouveau minimalist architecture of Georgetown flagship stores. My roommates and I were lured into this little hobbit house by the fro-yo and before we knew it, we underwent a magical transformation through countless return visits of becoming adults who eat beets. Sweetgreen taught us to worship at the altar of lettuce.
I was hooked. We had a blissful love affair during which I learned how to eat all sorts of colored foods. (I was strictly a beige food kid growing up)
And then, in an act of self deprivation, I chose to leave the promise land and move to New York. I found myself miles from Georgetown, on the mean streets of NYC's East Village. A place where salads do not exist. In the east village people eat Pho. They eat Falafel. They eat steamed pork buns. They eat Bahn mi. Soba noodles. Porchetta sandwiches bursting with slow roasted burnt crispy pork skin and mustard so powerful you cant stop crying. Ramen noodles with quail egg and seaweed reduction and pork belly and chicken liver glistening in a secret recipe for a broth so thick and enchanting you almost pass out halfway through the dish.
It's a tourists' heaven. A weekenders' paradise. Every new, adventurous eating phenomenon you could want all jam packed into one tiny neighborhood. However, as a long-term, week-day resident, I couldn't just pop out for a 2 hour wait and a 1700 calorie lunch every day at the local noodle joint.
My friends who still lived in DC bragged about the ease of visiting the new Glover Park sweetgreen (which opened mere MONTHS after I departed for the big apple, or as it should be known, the big pork bun) and I saw more and more Sweetgreens popping up on Capitol Hill and in Bethesda. My ex-city was taunting me.
I believe at one point I wrote a letter to Sweetgreen, while sadly making my own salads in my crumbling hovel of a 4th floor east village walk up, and urged them to open a franchise in NYC. In retrospect, that was probably a pretty lonely day for me. Can you imagine a scenario in which you would write to a salad-themed restaurant in another city? ....exactly.
I was going through a bit of culture shock. I call this time the dissatisfied-spinster-working-from-home years.
And a few short years later, my grassroots campaigning clearly paid off and those nice salad makers in DC read my tear soaked letters and said "ok ok ok, we give in, we'll open a Sweetgreen in another city"
The Nomad Hotel was opening a Sweetgreen!!!!! And my newly minted studio mate, Roxy, introduced me to my eyeslash weave specialist whose office was just around the corner from this new Sweetgreen garden of earthly delights. Everything happens for a reason.
Spinster-work-from-home no more. I now had a studio to work in and studio mate to work with, a set of freshly super-sized eyelashes and an excuse to go to Sweetgreen at least once every three weeks after lash weaves. I call this the power-montage-era. Because whenever I look back on it, I see myself running at full speed through life, grinning ear to ear, planning my wedding with arugula coming out of my ears.
Life has come full circle. Sweetgreen has come to me. It is literally on my block. If I had doubted my faith before, it is restored to that of impassioned zealot. There is a lettuce god. And he hears my prayers. I can visit Sweetgreen morning, noon and night if I so choose. They let me bring my puppy in with me and all the salad magicians in the assembly line comment on how cute she is.
And best of all...
The fashion. Standing in a 45 minute long line to get lunch should be devastatingly annoying. But in Sweetgreen it is valuable time for market research. Everyone at the Sweetgreen on Kenmare and Mulberry looks like they just stormed straight out of a shoot for Net-a-porter. From dramatic wide legged trouser pants to platform shoes and ironic beards and/or glasses, this hip crew does not mess around with their workday attire.
I always knew Sweetgreen and I shared a special connection on a culinary level, but I had no idea we had such perfectly aligned taste in ready to wear too. Where else can you get an ethically sourced lunch of locally grown ingredients prepared right before your eyes while also watching a runway show?!
So, thank you, dear SG lettuce gods. Thank you for satisfying my hunger for arugula and oversized wool cape coats alike. I shall call this new era, the time-of-salad-synergy. Care to join me for lunch? By all means, meet me at the corner of Mulberry and Kenmare wearing your best military-insprired cape vest and we'll laugh together over a spicy sazbi. And who knows. You might just turn up illustrated on my instagram feed.