Salad chain Sweetgreen announced today it is acquiring the robot restaurant Spyce. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter, and terms were not disclosed.
Spyce was created by MIT alums and launched its first restaurant in the Spring of 2018, which grabbed headlines because of its use of robots to prepare each meal. The company partnered with chef Daniel Boulud to develop its menu and went on to raise nearly $25 million in funding. In November of last year Spyce re-launched itself, and introduced its new “Infinite Kitchen” robot, which allowed for more ingredient customization and could make 350 meals per hour. Spyce currently operates two locations in Massachusetts, one in Cambridge and one in Boston.
In the press announcement, Sweetgreen said Spyce’s automation technology will allow its workers to focus more on customers service, expand its menu into warm foods, and make meal preparation more consistent.
In June of this year, Sweetgreen confidentially filed to go public. CNBC today speculated that the acquisition of an automation company like Spyce could help Sweetgreen attract investors because the technology could help alleviate some of the labor shortage issues facing the restaurant industry at large.
Labor issues and the pandemic have accelerated interest in restaurant automation. In addition to robots being able to work around the clock without a break, robots don’t get sick and provide customers with a contactless food transaction. Sweetgreen’s acquisition comes less than a week after Creator, another robot-centered restaurant that has raised a fair amount of venture capital, re-opened its doors after being shut down by COVID last year. And just today, robot pizza maker, Piestro announced a partnership to deploy 3,600 units co-branded with pizza chain 800 Degrees over the next five years.
As the pandemic maintains a looming presence in our lives and automation technology matures, expect more announcements like this over the coming year.