Spyce Sizzles into Harvard Square, Complete with Automated Kitchen

By: Tracy Jiang and Davin W. Shi, Harvard Crimson, January 28, 2021

Spyce, a food service startup that uses robots in the preparation of its dishes, opened a location in Harvard Square Wednesday.Spyce, a food service startup that uses robots in the preparation of its dishes, opened a location in Harvard Square Wednesday. By Santiago A. Saldivar

Spyce, a fast-casual eatery that serves bowls and salads engineered by an automated kitchen, celebrated the opening of its Harvard Square location on Wednesday.

The restaurant, located at 1 Brattle Square — in a storefront formerly occupied by Chipotle — is the second location of the Boston-based chain, which was founded by four MIT graduates and is backed by renowned French chef Daniel Boulud.

Spyce was slated to open in early 2020, but the onset of the coronavirus pandemic delayed construction at the site.

Michael Farid, co-founder and chief executive officer of Spyce, said he and his three co-founders — Braden Knight, Kale T. Rogers, and Luke Schlueter — opened Spyce to pursue their passion for engineering and food.

“I started my Master’s in robotics and I became really interested in restaurants,” Farid said. “Specifically, I became really interested in the idea of making healthy food more accessible and more affordable and more convenient.”

“It started out as a very small idea: let’s build a stir-fry robot,” he added. “And then once we did that, we realized we were more excited about the idea of serving food than building machines.”

The Spyce founders engineered an “Infinite Kitchen” — a set of automated flattop grills, steamers, and precise measuring systems — to prepare the ingredients and seasonings for its warm bowls and seasonal salads.

The precise technology of the Infinite Kitchen allows patrons to enjoy meals that can be customized to accommodate guests’ dietary preferences, including “eight major allergens” and “eight major diets,” according to the restaurant’s website.

Elisabeth Allison ’67, who ordered from Spyce on opening day, said the restaurant’s concept and use of robots to customize dishes was “great.”

“I think it’s particularly period appropriate, given the period we’re in,” she said. “It was very simple. Lots of choices, but all clear.”

Farid said he and his co-founders are “excited” about how the Infinite Kitchen technology will impact customer experience.

“We’re really excited about the technology we’ve built. It’s really fast, it’s really consistent, it’s really convenient and it allows people to customize any aspect of a meal and personalize any aspect of their meal. There’s almost no wait time,” Farid said.

Theodora M. Skeadas ’12, the executive director of Cambridge Local First — of which Spyce is a member — said she was “excited” about Spyce coming to Harvard Square.

“I live in Harvard Square, and it’s been so difficult because everything has been closed and we don’t really get good news,” she said. “So we are very, very happy that they’re opening.”

“It’s been a very difficult year for small businesses,” she added.

—Staff writer Leah J. Teichholtz contributed reporting to this story.

—Staff writer Tracy Jiang can be reached at tracy.jiang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @_tracyjiang_.

—Staff writer Davin W. Shi can be reached at davin.shi@thecrimson.com.

Cambridge Local First