This salad chain is aiming to be a $1 billion company

  • Fidelity is leading an investment in Sweetgreen, a deal that would value the salad chain at just over $1 billion.
  • Despite the public-market volatility, the private fundraising environment has shown little signs of slowing down. Venture capital investing is primed to top $100 billion in 2018, according to a recent report by PitchBook.
A salad and drink are arranged for a photograph outside a Sweetgreen Inc. restaurant in San Francisco, California.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A salad and drink are arranged for a photograph outside a Sweetgreen Inc. restaurant in San Francisco, California.

Sweetgreen, a fast-casual food chain that focuses on salads, is aiming for a valuation that surpasses $1 billion in a new funding round, several people with knowledge of the matter said.

Fidelity Investments is leading the round, which is close to being finalized, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing private information. Sweetgreen is seeking to raise about $200 million, one of the people said.

Despite the public-market volatility, the private fundraising environment has shown little signs of slowing down. Venture capital investing is primed to top $100 billion in 2018, according to a recent report by PitchBook. As of the third quarter, the industry has deployed more capital than any other year since 2006, PitchBook said.

Sweetgreen was founded in 2007 and has since attracted lunchtime lines for its unique salad offerings, with ingredients sourced from local farms. Some of Sweetgreen's menu changes seasonally. It currently includes options such as chicken and brussels sprouts, and curry cauliflower. According to Sweetgreen's website, there are nearly 90 stores open in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The co-founders, Nathaniel Ru, Nicolas Jammet and Jonathan Neman, started Sweetgreen while they were still in college at Georgetown University. They've sought to create a culture in addition to their restaurants called "The Sweet Life," which focuses on health and sustainability.

Fidelity joins other notable investors, including T. Rowe Price and Steve Case's Revolution, which participated in earlier rounds. J.P. Morgan served as the private-placement agent for the round.

Representatives from Sweetgreen, Fidelity and J.P. Morgan declined to comment.

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