Sweetgreen buys robotic restaurant startup Spyce

Salad chain envisions Spyce’s conveyor belt technology powering its restaurants

Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman and Spyce CEO Michael Farid (Getty, Spyce)
Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman and Spyce CEO Michael Farid (Getty, Spyce)

Salad chain Sweetgreen is moving into the tech space, acquiring automated restaurant firm Spyce for an undisclosed price.

Based in Boston, Spyce uses a robotic kitchen to replace cooks, using conveyor belts to serve up dishes like kale salads and banh mi bowls. Sweetgreen told Insider that it envisions using Spyce’s technology to power its restaurants.

Spyce was not without its issues after its founding by MIT graduates in 2018. After raising $21 million in Series A funding, the company was forced to temporarily close in 2019 to tinker with the automation process, as well as the menu. It reopened in November 2020 with new technology to improve the flavor of the food.

In Spyce restaurants, bowls travel along a conveyor belt, where ingredients are dropped into containers after being cooked at varying temperatures, depending on the product, as the bowl moves down the assembly line.

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The acquisition won’t necessarily increase Sweetgreen’s physical footprint. While Spyce consists of just two restaurants in Boston, there are already 130 Sweetgreen locations across the U.S. and the company is valued at $1.8 billion; the chain submitted confidential plans for an IPO in June.

Sweetgreen has shown interest in tech investments in the past. According to Fast Company, the chain acquired meal delivery service Galley Foods in 2019. Last week, the company hired Wouleta Ayele, the former SVP of Starbucks Technology Services, as its chief technology officer.

Sweetgreen’s deal for Spyce is expected to close by the end of the third quarter.

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[Insider] — Holden Walter-Warner