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Home /Blog /The Impact of Sustainability on Restaurant Growth

The Impact of Sustainability on Restaurant Growth

Nairi Bodroumian
100 articles
BlogIndependent Restaurants
5 min read

It’s Saturday night, and your restaurant is hosting a dinner party for Dave. He’s turning the big 3-0, so it’s a full house!

Pizzas, drinks, fries, burgers, sandwiches….you name it. But of the 20 customers you had, only 10 of them managed to finish their plates. After the party, you get left with heaps of food your staff has to handle.

What is your go-to move to get rid of them?

Around 55% of leftovers in the US restaurants that are edible are thrown away, costing the restaurant industry over $162 billion in food waste yearly.

And food waste is one of the significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, negatively impacting sustainability as well.  

If you’re a franchise owner looking to expand your reach and reduce costs, embracing sustainability should be in your business plans

In this article, we’ll tell you the story of Sweetgreen, a sustainable restaurant that’s been playing its cards right and witnessing an ultimate expansion. In the end, you’ll learn what you need to start your own journey to success!

Becoming a Successful Sustainable Restaurant: Story of Sweetgreen

Sweetgreen is a prime example of sustainability in restaurants. It successfully adopted sustainability practices and achieved significant expansion.

Founded in 2007 in Washington, D.C., Sweetgreen is a fast-casual salad chain that has garnered a cult-like following for its focus on fresh, locally sourced, and sustainably grown ingredients. 

From the outset, the founders, Nathaniel Ru, Jonathan Neman, and Nicolas Jammet, were committed to a mission of connecting people to real food and promoting a more sustainable food system.

Sweetgreen’s commitment to sustainability is evident in several key aspects of its operations:

Local Sourcing

Sweetgreen places a strong emphasis on sourcing ingredients from local farmers and producers

The restaurant’s menu changes seasonally to showcase the freshest local produce, which not only supports the local community and its agriculture but also reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting food over long distances.


Sweetgreen is known for its transparency regarding the sourcing of its ingredients. Each menu item comes with information about the farms and producers that supplied the ingredients, allowing customers to trace the origins of their meals.

Eco-Friendly Packaging

Sweetgreen has taken steps to reduce its environmental impact by using eco-friendly packaging, such as compostable bowls, utensils made from plant-based materials, and paper bags.

Waste Reduction

The company is committed to reducing food waste. It has partnered with organizations to repurpose surplus food and donate meals to those in need.

Community Engagement

Sweetgreen engages with local communities through events, partnerships, and initiatives that promote healthy eating, sustainability, and social responsibility.

The restaurant’s dedication to sustainability has resonated with consumers who value health-conscious and environmentally-friendly dining options. This commitment to a higher purpose has not only contributed to Sweetgreen’s growth but has also helped it stand out in a competitive market.

Since its founding, Sweetgreen has expanded its footprint significantly. It has opened numerous locations across the United States, attracting a loyal customer base and becoming a major player in the fast-casual dining scene.

5 Ways Embracing Sustainability Can Impact a Restaurant’s Growth

Embracing restaurant sustainability can have a significant and positive impact on a restaurant’s growth trajectory, especially if you’re a franchise owner.

Here are five ways in which adopting restaurant sustainability practices can drive growth:

Enhanced Brand Reputation

A commitment to sustainability can differentiate your restaurant in a competitive market. Consumers increasingly seek out eco-conscious options, and a reputation for being environmentally responsible can attract a loyal customer base that values ethical and sustainable dining experiences. 

A strong brand reputation can lead to increased customer loyalty, positive word-of-mouth, and higher patronage.

Increased Customer Engagement

Sustainability initiatives provide an opportunity to connect with customers on a deeper level. When patrons understand and appreciate your efforts to minimize environmental impact, they are more likely to engage with your brand, share their experiences on social media, and become advocates for your restaurant. 

This heightened customer engagement can lead to higher foot traffic and repeat business.

Cost Savings

Using inefficient ways to cook food and operate kitchen equipment can lead to an increase in costs and energy consumption.

While some sustainable practices may require upfront investment, many can lead to long-term cost savings. 

Energy-efficient appliances, reduced water usage, and waste-reduction strategies can lower utility bills and operational expenses over time. By optimizing resource and energy usage, your restaurant can allocate resources more efficiently and allocate saved funds to growth initiatives.

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Attracting New Markets

Sustainable practices can attract new segments of customers, including environmentally conscious diners, tourists seeking unique experiences, and corporate clients looking for sustainable catering options. 

Expanding your customer base by appealing to these markets can drive revenue growth and increase overall demand for your restaurant’s offerings.

Business Innovation and Differentiation

Embracing sustainability often requires creative problem-solving and innovative thinking. By implementing eco-friendly packaging and delivery, offering plant-based menu options, or collaborating with local farmers, your restaurant can stand out as a leader in the food industry. 

Innovation driven by sustainability can pique customer interest, generate media coverage, and position your restaurant as a trendsetter, contributing to overall growth.

Integrating into Your Sustainable Restaurant Model

Navigating the path to sustainability in the restaurant industry is not just about sourcing local produce or using eco-friendly packaging; it also requires leveraging technology to optimize operations and minimize waste. 

That’s where steps in., with its all-in-one delivery and marketing platform, aligns seamlessly with the vision of modern, sustainable restaurants. How? 

Here’s the connection:

  1. Waste Reduction: By streamlining the ordering process and consolidating orders from various platforms, ensures accuracy and reduces the likelihood of food wastage due to incorrect orders or overproduction.
  2. Enhanced Customer Engagement: With features like custom ordering websites and digital menus, restaurants can effectively communicate their sustainability initiatives, building stronger ties with eco-conscious consumers.
  3. Operational Efficiency: The platform’s focus on menu management and real-time inventory updates further reduces waste, ensuring that restaurants prepare food based on demand, thereby cutting down on surplus.
  4. Support for Small and Medium-sized Restaurants: Just as sustainable practices empower restaurants of all sizes, is designed to help even the smaller players flourish. By leveling the digital playing field, it ensures that even local, sustainability-focused restaurants can compete with the big players in the digital ordering realm.

Embracing sustainability is undeniably essential for growth, and integrating technology solutions like can be the linchpin in ensuring that sustainability is woven into every facet of restaurant operations. 

The future of dining is green, and with platforms like, you’re not just serving meals; you’re serving the planet.

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