When Sean Gransee, 30, was shelling out more than $15 to order delivery of Sweetgreen through his Outpost program, a subsidized corporate delivery service that charges just 94 cents for delivery, he often found himself reaching for a bag of chips. fries after eating their crispy rice bowl.
“It didn’t always fill me up,” Gransee, a Chicago software engineer, told The Post.
One afternoon last October, when her office lunch order went missing, she dropped by to pick up a bowl from the chain in person. She was surprised to find a seemingly much larger portion.
“My bowl seemed a bit heavier. I was like, ‘Are they giving me more? [food] when do i order in person?’ I did that again the following week, and again my salad felt a bit heavier. I thought it was all in my head, but I wanted to be sure.”
So the software engineer became a scientist.
She bought a food scale and weighed her orders: A delivery order registered 373 grams, while the in-person order weighed 492 grams.
“The online order weighed 24% less,” he said.
Gransee also posted an Instagram video about her surprising salad finds, and commenters were quick to blast Sweetgreen, pointing out other fast-casual chains where they had experienced similar issues.
“Chipotle is also guilty of this,” said one.
“I need to order a side of lettuce with my [Cava] salad, they are so stingy with the vegetables,” said another.
One commenter even claimed to have worked for Cava and confirmed the practice.
“I made this myself tbh (to be honest). There are very strict rules about food portions, but I felt guilty giving such small portions to a face-to-face person and managers would check orders to make sure we didn’t over-portion food,” they said.
Another commenter, who claimed to have worked for a fast casual restaurant, offered a similar explanation.
“Online orders are most likely to be made with the correct portions based on the recipe, because staff have more time to prepare their food and follow the recipes. In person, there’s more pressure to make food quickly and someone staring at you, so you tend to over-portion (give you more food than is in the recipe),” they said.
Gransee’s initial findings inspired him to be even more granular.
He rounded up four of his colleagues and asked them to order their favorite salads online and in person.
To make the experiment as fair as possible, they made sure the salads were in the same containers and had the same amount of dressing.
Weight disparities were immediately apparent.
A colleague found that her Sweetgreen Shroomami salad purchased online weighed 436 grams compared to 536 grams in person in one case. In another case, the same Shroomami weighed as much as 606 grams when ordered in person.
“For the crispy rice bowl, the average online order weighed 16% less than the average in-person order,” Gransee wrote in a Medium post about the finding. “For the Shroomi Bowl, the difference was a staggering 20%.”
A Sweetgreen representative told The Post that their portions are the same online as they are in the store.
“We are aware of the video and immediately contacted the customer to address the issue. Our portion standards are the same online as they are in the store, so any discrepancies are unintentional and are being addressed by our Operations team,” the spokeswoman told The Post.
“We know how important it is to provide our guests with consistent food they can trust. Feedback like this helps us learn and improve where we might be missing.”
In a statement, Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s director of corporate affairs, told The Post that customers “have the opportunity to fully customize their meal at restaurants by vocalizing desired portions or digitally selecting extra, light, regular, or side when choosing from the list of actual ingredients. Chipotle receives a great deal of praise for the incredible value its entrees offer with responsibly sourced ingredients, chopped or grilled every day.”
Cava did not respond to requests for comment.
The bottom line: Gransee urges diners to order in person if they want more for their money.
“If you want a hearty meal from Sweetgreen, ditch the computer and order face to face,” she wrote.