UPDATE 1/25: This article has been updated to include a statement from a Sweetgreen spokesperson.
Dozens of University of Michigan students and community members lined up along State Street Tuesday morning in anticipation of the grand opening of Sweetgreen, a fast-casual salad chain focused on seasonal ingredients and local partnerships.
Kinesiology senior Brooke Harrison and Kate Kikilo, U-M alum and Ann Arbor resident, got in line around 9:30 a.m. — an hour before the restaurant’s scheduled opening. Harrison is from Boston, which has 86 Sweetgreen locations. Harrison said she is excited to see Sweetgreen expanding into Ann Arbor, and expects to be a regular customer.
“Sweetgreen’s kind of a household name, especially with the East Coast and slowly in the Midwest,” Harrison said. “It’s nice to have a place (in Ann Arbor) that you know (you can) come in and get good food.”
In an email to The Michigan Daily, Sweetgreen spokesperson Grace Demeritt wrote about why the company chose to open a location in Ann Arbor.
“The Ann Arbor restaurant is in the heart of the University of Michigan’s campus, offering a healthy and convenient option for busy students,” Demeritt wrote. “Beyond opening a new location, sweetgreen is looking to be an active member of the Ann Arbor community. Commissioning art from a University of Michigan graduate for the restaurant and lifting up student athletes in the area are just a couple of examples of what’s to come from the restaurant.”
According to Demeritt, the State St. location employs 15 U-M students and sources ingredients from a number of local suppliers such as Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Rosewood Products and Planted Detroit.
In advance of opening day, Sweetgreen hosted two tasting events on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22 in the State St. location where a select number of students could sign up to receive free salads from the Ann Arbor store. LSA sophomore Mariya Jahan attended the Jan. 21 event, which was her first time trying Sweetgreen.
“I didn’t know it was that popular because I personally have never heard of Sweetgreen before,” Jahan said. “Then all of a sudden, I see that all my East-Coaster friends are super excited about it, and I have high expectations because it seems like so many people want it.”
The Ann Arbor location is Sweetgreen’s third restaurant in the state of Michigan. The other two locations, in Birmingham and Troy, opened in August and December 2022, respectively. A second Ann Arbor location is expected to open later this year at Arbor Hills Mall.
The opening day featured collaborations with local and student vendors, including UMich Apparel, an online resale company for vintage U-M gear.
LSA senior Abby Miars, owner of UMich Apparel, said one of Sweetgreen’s student ambassadors approached her in advance of the opening in hopes of collaborating. As part of this partnership, the first 50 customers on Tuesday received a free clothing item from UMich Apparel, and could also enter a raffle for one of five jackets, which Miars said were her five favorite items in her inventory.
Miars said she was excited to work with Sweetgreen because of the enthusiasm both restaurant team members and the campus community showed for its opening.
“It’s been really exciting because Sweetgreen is so excited to come to campus, all the students were really eager for it,” Miars said. “I came to set up just before 9:30 and there were already two people outside.”
In addition to vintage U-M clothing, customers arriving early in the day could receive free Sweetgreen-branded stickers and baseball caps, as well as cookies from Zingerman’s Bakehouse. Customers arriving after 3 p.m. were able to make their own free bouquets from University Flower Shop. Opening day also featured live music from the Michigan Electronic Music Collective, a student DJ group.
Daily News Editor Samantha Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.