Robotic Cooking: The Future is at Spyce, a Michelin Star Chef-backed Startup with ~$26 Million in Funding
Boston, MA - The idea that digitization is the driving heartbeat fueling modern economy isn’t particularly novel. It’s a statement of fact. To say that it effects each aspect of our lives isn’t exactly a bold statement to make, either. And nowhere is that more obvious than the food industry. Few people with an attention span longer than a hamster’s can recall life pre-GrubHub—when the act of calling into your favorite takeout required clarifying your order at least five times. To paraphrase a long dead man, necessity is the stepmother of convenience.
But not necessarily a warm one. Critics have long argued that despite the convenience of… well, convenience, a decidedly human factor gets lost in the process. And that shared human experience is part of what defines dining.
That’s what makes the success of a concept like Spyce so fascinating.
Haven’t heard of Spyce yet? If you work in Downtown or the Financial District, you’ve likely passed by it daily in the past few months without giving it a second thought. But tucked away on this busy Washington St walkway is one of the world’s first robotic powered restaurant.
“Our purpose is to increase access to wholesome and delicious food for people at all income levels,” Grace Uvezian, Spyce’s head of marketing and public relations, told Eater in 2018. To do this, they’ve automated virtually every aspect of the fast-casual experience—including ordering, preparation and plating—with the result being freshly prepared bowls of world flavor-inspired cuisine (including Korean, Italian, Thai and Moroccan) at the moderately low price of $7.50.
Freshly prepared by robots.
If the idea seems like a technocratic vision out of Brave New World, then it should come as no surprise that Spyce was fostered by three MIT undergraduates who were able to achieve close to $25 Million in venture capital Series A funding in just four short years since its conception in 2015.
“When our founders were undergraduates at MIT, they couldn’t afford to spend $10 to $12 on one meal and knew they weren’t alone,” said Uvezian. “Too many people were being priced out of quality. Spyce is at the intersection of hospitality and technology; by combining appropriately sourced ingredients with our robotic kitchen, we’re able to provide meals at $7.50.”
But critics are quick to point out the cost of a meal at Spyce isn’t all that much less than the typical cost of a meal at a fast-casual restaurant. And that Spyce’s founders don’t have any background in hospitality or the food industry. Or that the cost of investing in AI robotics is actually significantly greater than hiring full time staff—most of whom work for considerably less than minimum wage and rely on tips to survive.
But that doesn’t seem to present a hindrance to the 500 or so customers Spyce serves daily. And along the way, the success of the concept (which formally opened for business May of last year) has attracted some fairly high profile investors—including celebrity Chef Daniel Boulud—who have contributed some $21 Million in backing for Spyce’s expansion along the East Coast
“Pretty much from day one, we were all more excited about building a restaurant than we were a technology company,” sai Michael Farid, Spyce’s CEO. “We weren’t building this for anybody else, we were building this for ourselves.”
“We’re excited to open more restaurants and further develop our concept and technology to continue establishing our brand within the food community. Just as on day one, we remain singularly focused on delivering an unbelievable meal and experience each time someone visits Spyce.”
Spyce is located at 241 Washington St in Boston and is open daily from 10:30 am - 10:00 pm. For more information, visit <a href=”https://www.spyce.com/ target="_blank" rel="nofollow"www.spyce.com