Sweetgreen announced Tuesday that it will purchase Spyce, a health-conscious fast casual powered by robotics.
Founded by MIT graduates Michael Farid, Brady Knight, Luke Schlueter, and Kale Rogers, the two-unit Boston-based concept utilizes what's called an "Infinite Kitchen," a conveyor belt lined with dispensers that automatically release precise portions of ingredients. The back of house uses a 450-degree double-sided carbon steel plancha to create "more flavorful crust, caramelizing juices and natural sugars." The kitchen also steams pasta, noodles, and grains with a 300-degree steamer, which Spyce claims is about 100 degrees hotter than normal. Orders are placed through the mobile app or through a self-service kiosk.
The robotic system allows Spyce to cook up to 350 personalized salads and grain bowls per hour and fulfill orders in three minutes or less. Since its founding, Spyce has raised nearly $25 million, including an investment from James Beard Award winner Daniel Boulud. The brand launched its first restaurant in 2018, but shuttered temporarily to refine its system and processes. It reopened to the public in November 2020.
The acquisition is expected to close in Q3. Financial details were not disclosed.
“As operators in the healthy, fast casual space, sweetgreen has long been the brand that we have most admired,” said Farid, who serves as CEO, in a statement. “We’re excited to come on board to join another inspiring, founder-led company, and to work together to blaze the trail for the future of this industry.”
Sweetgreen, which now has more than 130 restaurants, is in the process of determining when and where it will introduce Spyce's technology. The company said the purchase will allow restaurants to generate faster and more consistent orders and enhance the menu beyond warm bowls, salad, and sides. In terms of labor, workers will be able to focus more on customer engagement and have an opportunity to develop technology-facing skills. The addition of Spyce also fits with Sweetgreen's mission to serve healthy food at scale.
“Spyce and sweetgreen have a shared purpose,” said Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman in a statement. “We built sweetgreen to connect more people to real food and create healthy fast food at scale for the next generation, and Spyce has built state-of-the-art technology that perfectly aligns with that vision. By joining forces with their best-in-class team, we will be able to elevate our team member experience, provide a more consistent customer experience and bring real food to more communities.”
The purchase comes about two months after Sweetgreen revealed that it confidentially filed a draft registration statement to the SEC relating to a proposed IPO. Prior to that announcement, the brand underwent a brand refresh to "create a flexible, sustainable design system that both reflects the culture of local communities and works at scale." The shift is reflected across the chain's physical store design and signage systems, marketing, advertising, social channels, and digital products.