Salad chain Sweetgreen bets on automation by acquiring Spyce and its robotic kitchen tech


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A worker wears a Sweetgreen Inc. hat while preparing food inside the company’s restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts.

Adam Glanzman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Salad chain Sweetgreen announced Tuesday that it has bought Spyce, a Boston restaurant company that made a name for itself with its automated kitchen.

Since its founding in 2015, Spyce has raised $24.88 million from investors, including famed chef Daniel Boulud, according to Pitchbook. The company’s robotic kitchen and conveyor belts are able to cook and serve its warm bowls and salads without any human intervention. Spyce has two restaurant locations, both in Boston.

The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter this year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Sweetgreen said it is determining where and how it will incorporate Spyce’s technology into its own restaurants. The company said the deal is intended to improve the customer experience by filling orders faster and more accurately and giving its employees more time to focus on preparing food.

The deal follows Sweetgreen’s move in June to file for an initial public offering confidentially. Ownership of Spyce’s technology could make Sweetgreen more attractive to investors as it seeks to enter the public markets. Rising labor costs have been putting pressure on profits across the restaurant industry, incentivizing companies to invest in automation and artificial intelligence technology to take care of simpler tasks. For example, McDonald’s bought Apprente in 2019 and has recently begun testing the software to take orders from some Chicago restaurants’ drive-thru lanes.

Sweetgreen’s latest funding round earlier this year valued it at nearly $1.8 billion after the coronavirus pandemic spurred massive growth for its digital sales. Because it is still a privately held company, it does not disclose its financial results.

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