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08/26/2021

Sweetgreen acquires restaurant automation start-up

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Sweetgreen storefront
Sweetgreen is making a major technology acquisition.

A fast-casual restaurant chain which specializes in healthy eating is making a major commitment to automating its operations.

Los Angeles-based Sweetgreen plans to acquire Spyce, a Boston-based start-up specializing in developing automated solutions for the restaurant industry. Originally founded by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and counting world-class chefs such as Daniel Boulud as investors and advisors, Spyce provides the Infinite Kitchen solution.

This automated culinary tool is designed to balance the core elements of cooking technique, measurement, and timing. By fresh-cooking through automation, Spyce is able to source the best available ingredients and enable seamless experiences for customers.

Through the acquisition, Sweetgreen intends to provide better food quality, consistency, and efficiency of preparation. Sweetgreen is determining when and where it will introduce Spyce’s technology into its restaurants. The main drivers for acquiring and integrating the Spyce platform include enabling store associates to focus more on preparation and hospitality moments, while they also develop technology-facing skills to operate and maintain Spyce technology.

Sweetgreen also seeks to generate faster and more consistent orders, creating an even more seamless customer experience and furthering its position as a forward-thinking, fast casual restaurant. In addition, the company intends to further enhance its menu beyond warm bowls.

“Spyce and Sweetgreen have a shared purpose,” said Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of Sweetgreen. “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.”

 “As operators in the healthy, fast casual space, Sweetgreen has long been the brand that we have most admired,” said Michael Farid, co-founder and CEO of Spyce. “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 is making this major technology acquisition following the Aug. 17 installation of Wouleta Ayele as CTO. Ayele joins Sweetgreen following a 16-year career at Starbucks, where she most recently served as senior VP, technology services.

At Sweetgreen, Ayele will be responsible for leading the company’s technology teams, allowing them to scale their supply chain model, advance restaurant operations, acquire new talent and develop their digital platforms.

“As we continue to scale and think about what the future of fast food will look like, the technology powering Sweetgreen plays an integral part in creating efficiencies and providing our guests with the best experience possible,” said Sweetgreen co-founder and CEO Jonathan Neman. “Wouleta has the experience, savviness, and leadership to help us make that vision a reality. We look forward to welcoming her to the team.”

The Spyce acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021.

Founded in 2007, Sweetgreen operates over 130 restaurants.