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Sweetgreen debuts automated store format

Sweetgreen automated technology
The new Sweetgreen format leverages automated technology to serve customers food. (Photo: Business Wire)

Sweetgreen’s latest new restaurant concept is based on automation.

The healthy eating chain is opening its first store powered by automation, in Naperville, Ill. The pilot location debuts a new proprietary technology solution called Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen.

Infinite Kitchen comes from Sweetgreen’s August 2021 acquisition of Spyce, a Boston-based start-up specializing in developing automated solutions for the restaurant industry. Spyce initially provided 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.

Since its acquisition of Spyce in 2021, Sweetgreen has been fine-tuning and adapting its technology to test in live store environments, with the goal of designing a frictionless food service experience.

According to Sweetgreen, its new automated store format allows for quicker pace, precise portioning and increased accuracy, while creating efficiencies that allow associates to focus on fresh prep and customer service. Store associates add a sprinkle of herbs or scoop of avocado at a finishing station.

When visiting the Naperville pilot restaurant, customers are greeted by a new “host” position. To order, customers can utilize self-service kiosks, place an order through the Sweetgreen mobile app, or order directly from the restaurant’s host.

The new restaurant format also brings in a new tasting counter, brand-storytelling digital screens, and a revamped merchandising strategy. Customers at the location will be able to shop exclusive merchandise with designs inspired by the new store.

Sweetgreen has been experimenting with new restaurant formats, including a digital-only location and an order-ahead, drive-up format.

The company, which went public last November, is looking to double its footprint in the next three to five years, and sees the potential for 1,000 locations by the end of the decade.

"We believe that automation will enable us to elevate the quality and integrity of our food while also providing a faster and more convenient experience for our customers and a better, more dynamic job for our team members," said Jonathan Neman, CEO and co-founder of Sweetgreen. “With the integration of the Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen in our restaurants, we can unlock efficiencies that will enable us to grow more quickly as we scale.”

Sweetgreen is donating meals to anti-poverty hunger relief agency Loaves & Fishes for each meal sold during the pilot store’s opening day.

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