In just a couple of weeks, 10 Astor Place will be home to yet another franchise of the ever-popular mini-chain Sweetgreen whose salad-tossing expertise and local-farm-to-tongs ethos have hoisted them to top of the lettuce pile, so to speak. In a city full of assembly-line salad joints that follow Subway’s personalized sandwich-prep model (without being gross about it), Sweetgreen seems to be sweeping the competition– their Williamsburg location regularly draws lunch-hour lines extending all the way to the door, making them a standout in the fast food new wave that’s taking over our increasingly health-obsessed city.
Sweetgreen’s brand new Astor Place location, the city’s eleventh franchise, is set to open Monday August 22– perfect timing for the completion of Astor Place Plaza following years of construction.
The D.C.-based restaurant has made a name for itself in New York City’s notoriously inhospitable restaurant scene by combining the health-conscious, organic-centric ideals of the city’s pickiest (and most privileged) eaters—hipster “foodies,” helicopter parents and the like—with the fast-casual, assembly-line efficiency that draws time-crunched professionals and desperate students to regrettable places like Chipotle– a constant source of denial and shame for health-conscious foodies who claim to abstain and others who simply believe. The rest of us are just happy to gobble up the magic jumping beans that we’re being fed by places like Chipotle, who suggest their food is actually sorta healthy.
The new Sweetgreen franchise joins a crowded field of other mini-chains frequented by office workers and college students in and around Astor Place, including Chop’t Salad, Just Salads on 8th Street and, like, 30 Pret A Mangers. And it’s yet another chain store to arrive on on the scene following the Astor Place Plaza renovation, along with places like Jeff Koons CVS.
While the area’s definitely more commercial than nearby East Village and has been for some time, Sweetgreen might be just another nail in the coffin of East Village weirdness and independent businesses that are being either overshadowed or replaced by strip-mall-style banality. (At least Mosaic Man’s work is coming back!) Maybe you’ll find some solace in the fact that Sweetgreen patronizes local farmers and serves up relatively healthy food stuffs so it’s not, like, killing people in the process.
According to an email from B+B received from Sweetgreen, announcing the new location, they’re banking on the lunch-hour crowd, or “local residents and NYU students who often find themselves short on time for lunch.” If you’re terrified about the prospect of long lines or simply cannot fathom having to waste any more time away from Pokémon Go, rest assured that you can order through the online app to skip the often horrendous line– hey, people love getting their salad tossed.
But, given the stiff competition Sweetgreen’s facing for lunch dollars in the area, they’re probably going to need to do even more than that to stand out. That said, here are some suggestions for how to make the new Sweetgreen the tip-top salad slinger in the game, free of charge (you’re welcome, Sweetgreen):
- Label all menu items “superfood” regardless of actual quality.
- Avoid alienating traditional fast food customers by expanding the dressing options from light, medium, and heavy to include “just a bowl full of dressing.”
- Offer customers pre-written Instagram posts about how they’re “feeling great and eating healthy!”
- Give up and start serving hamburgers.