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How much did Sweetgreen pay for robot-kitchen startup Spyce? $50 million

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 10/27/2021 Anissa Gardizy
The Spyce restaurant in Harvard Square. © Courtesy of Spyce The Spyce restaurant in Harvard Square.

Sweetgreen disclosed in a public filing this week its purchase price for Spyce, the Boston restaurant startup that uses automation to prepare meals: $50.7 million, mostly in stock.

California-based Sweetgreen announced its intentions buy Spyce in August, two months before it filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, but the financial terms of the acquisition had not been disclosed.

Both restaurants are known for their healthy, build-your-own salads and rice bowls, but at Sweetgreen, employees walk down an ingredients line with customers to fulfill orders, whereas at Spyce, robots handle that process. After Spyce customers place an order through a digital kiosk, they can watch tofu, vegetables, and sauces fall into a food container as it moves along a conveyor belt system, dubbed the “Infinite Kitchen.”

Sweetgreen said it plans to integrate the Spyce’s technology in its restaurants so that it can “serve its food with even better quality, consistency and efficiency.” Spyce closed its downtown Boston restaurant last week and said it is focusing on developing automation systems for Sweetgreen.

Spyce said it does not have plans to close its location in Harvard Square, which opened in January. Both Spyce restaurants are located about a three-minute walk from the nearest Sweetgreen.

According to Sweetgreen’s public filing, Spyce generated about $933,000 in revenue during the thirty-nine weeks ended Sept. 26, between its two restaurants. During that period, Sweetgreen, which has about 140 restaurants in the US, generated $243 million in revenue.

Spyce equity holders are set to receive shares in Sweetgreen worth about $37.5 million, plus up to $20 million more if the deal reaches certain performance milestones by 2026.

Spyce’s cofounders began working on the company in 2015 while studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The startup raised about $25 million in venture capital funding before the acquisition, attracting investors including Collaborative Fund, Maveron, Khosla Ventures, and a handful of prominent chefs.

In an August blog post, Spyce said early investor and Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud introduced the startup to Sweetgreen’s cofounders in 2016.

“Over the years we kept in touch as our companies developed,” Spyce’s cofounders wrote. “As we thought through what was next for Spyce, we realized that by teaming up with sweetgreen, we could create a company that was greater than the sum of its parts.”

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