Salad chain Sweetgreen buys kitchen robotics startup Spyce – TechCrunch

The pandemic, like many other aspects in robotics, has dramatically increased interest in automated kitchens. The food and restaurant industry was essential during global shutdowns. However, finding qualified staff for the kitchen proved difficult, particularly early in the process when there were still questions about COVIDs transmission.
Sweetgreen, a California-based fast-casual salad chain, announced this week that it will be investing heavily in automation by acquiring Spyce. The startup, based in Boston, was founded in 2015. It began as a spinout from MIT mechanical engineering students. The team opened two automated restaurants in Boston after first serving food at the school's dining hall. Our Spyce restaurants will remain open, according to the startup.

Sweetgreen will eventually integrate Spyces technology in its restaurants. It will take time to scale up the restaurant chain that currently has more than 120 locations in the U.S.

Sweetgreen was created to help more people access real food, create healthy fast food at scale, for the next generation. Spyce's state-of-the art technology perfectly aligns with this vision, Jonathan Neman, Sweetgreen CEO, said in a statement. We will work together with their top-of-the-line team to improve the experience of our team members, deliver better customer service, and bring real food to more people by joining forces.

Salads, like pizza, are an obvious target for early food automation. These are both very popular and easy to automate. Simply combine a few ingredients from various chutes into one bowl.

Sweetgreen quickly points out that the plan does not seek to replace employees.

The company says that [T]eam members can focus more on hospitality and preparation while working with state-of the-art technology. To support Head Coaches, invest more in training and education. Team members who are interested in technology-facing skills will be able operate and maintain Spyce technology.

The deal is expected close in Q3. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.