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Sweetgreen says the company’s cash-free experiment is going well

But it’s still developing a way to serve those without credit

Jonathan Neman, co-CEO of Sweetgreen, onstage at Code Commerce
Jonathan Neman, co-CEO of Sweetgreen
Keith MacDonald

Months after Sweetgreen officially swore off cash in all of its stores, the company says it’s “so far, so good” — even as its exec stressed it’s still developing a way to help those without credit cards or smartphones pay for their food.

Onstage at Code Commerce today, Sweetgreen co-CEO Jonathan Neman described the decision to go cashless at its roughly 75 salad-focused restaurants in California and the Northeast as a “good experiment” that has helped improve employee safety, reduce line length and remedy health concerns — all without denting the company’s bottom line.

“When you have people handling food and handling cash, it just created a food safety thing we didn’t want to deal with,” Neman said. Not to mention, he explained, it’s pushed customers to “get on the mobile app.” (And that means more data, of course, for Sweetgreen.)

But not everyone has credit; others, particularly low-income Americans, don’t even own a smartphone to use Sweetgreen’s app. And Neman acknowledged it’s still “something we talk a lot about.” He said Sweetgreen is continuing its work to create a way for some customers to turn cash into digital payments, but didn’t debut any new solution for it on Thursday.

“Today, the communities that we’re in, most people do [have credit], but there is a very vocal group of people, whether it’s because of them or because of wanting to be inclusive, that we’re very, very conscious about,” Neman said.

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