A kitchen run by robots. It’s not an idea pulled from some futuristic novel, but the concept behind Spyce—a forward-thinking fast-casual concept backed by Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud. Boulud, who acts as culinary director and developed the menu alongside executive chef Sam Benson, collaborated with four MIT graduates to launch the Boston restaurant in May of 2018.
The engineering grads, who initially developed the self-cleaning robot concept called Spyce Kitchen, were motivated by their love of fast food at an affordable price. The Spyce Boys—as they named themselves early on—built their prototype in the basement of their fraternity house. After perfecting their invention, they connected with Chef Boulud, who visited their prototype, was highly impressed, and joined forces with the team.
While the mechanical staff adds a certain buzz factor, the restaurant’s mission is fundamentally human: to make delicious, healthy food more accessible for all. Where similar restaurants might charge $12 for a bowl of grains, veggies, proteins, and artisanal accoutrements, a meal at Spyce is just $7.50—a welcome addition among students in Boston’s academic scene.
However, the robotic action isn’t just relegated to the back of the house. Diners interact with technology, too. Placing their order through a touch screen, customers first choose from a number of basic bowls, including Indian, Thai, Latin, Lebanese, and more. Then, sides—like pomegranate seeds, cilantro, and soft-boiled eggs—can be added to your order. Choose your beverage, and your request is sent to the robot chefs who scoop the ingredients and mix them into a wok. Each wok area displays a screen that lists the customer’s name and order, so you can see your meal being prepared in real time.
Spyce has plenty of humans on hand, too. A manager is available to answer any questions, and a prep server adds all the garnishes at the end of the cooking process. The real human test, of course, is the taste, and Spyce has been a real hit with Boston locals. In fact, there’s already buzz about the possibility of future locations. Healthy, freshly made food at a great price? We’re ready to punch in our order.
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