When four MIT students first launched Spyce in Boston, Massachusetts, USA a few years back, they took automated kitchens to a new level. But technical glitches led to bloated wait times and limited options for customization. Determined to improve the customer experience, co-founder and CEO Michael Farid shut down the restaurant to redesign the entire system. While he admits on the company blog that it “didn’t feel great,” he also says the group “wanted to challenge ourselves to learn from our past and build something better.”
After a major reboot project, Farid reopened the restaurant on 29 October—delivering a fast-casual gamechanger.
One big shift: Food is now prepared on site and fed into a retooled cooking robot with temperature-controlled lanes so it can steam rice and pastas, heat sauces, and sear chicken or tofu. The more robust bot helped Spyce expand its veggie-centric offerings to include salads and works with a new ordering app that allows a more bespoke ordering process. Guests answer an initial prompt and the entire menu adjusts in real time to meet their preferences, including eight major allergens and eight major diets, like vegetarian or Keto. Customers can then customize any aspect of their bowl to suit their tastes, down to the amount of sauce or dressing, and the level of spiciness. “We wanted to create a menu that’s as inclusive as it is craveable,” said Farid.
Even with all the fancy features, the new Infinite Kitchen system can produce up to 350 bowls per hour—almost three times more than the original. And it can complete an order in 5 minutes or less, shaving at least 10 minutes off previous wait times for customers.
And as COVID-19 pushed other restaurants to third-party delivery apps, Spyce launched its own service: It hired full-time drivers to deliver orders via SomEV zero-emission electric mopeds—an investment made possible by increasing the restaurant’s labor efficiency. They’ll even pick up the compost from the last order.
“We’ve reinvented the way we cook and how customers can truly personalize their meals,” Farid said. “We also built a sustainable way to deliver our food to customers’ doorsteps. This is a new, improved experience that’s built around bringing healthy, personalized meals to our community.”
The next big bite: The team is gearing up to open a before the end of the year, betting its touchless, tech-driven model will be the cheat code for surviving an industry decimated by the global pandemic.