Automation-focused fast-casual restaurant Spyce, backed by famed fine-dining chef Daniel Boulud, made national headlines in 2018 for creating a bowl concept using intelligent machines to do the work of chefs. But last November, the Boston restaurant closed for a major overhaul.
While running the original store was a “ton of fun,” co-founder and CEO Michael Farid said it made sense to close Spyce last year to revisit and improve the automation and menu based on consumer feedback.
“We reinvented the way that we cook, and the way customers personalize meals,” he said during a virtual media tour of the restaurant held in October.
The restaurant reopen Nov. 10 with a new automated kitchen featuring a carbon steel plancha that adds more flavor to each ingredient. The Infinite Kitchen, which cooks and assembles bowls and salads along an automated assembly line, is faster and allows for more personalization.
The new kitchen creates an “incredible sear on every ingredient” and has superheated steamers that steam grains and pastas to “al dente perfection,” Farid said.
“We added the capability to serve salads in addition to warm bowls, the ability to safely serve multiple allergens, the versatility to serve even the most delicate of ingredients such as marinated eggplant, and vastly increased our speed and capacity in order to reduce wait times,” Farid said.
The restaurant is also testing delivery using zero emission electric mopeds, a strategy the company accelerated because of COVID-19.
The main transformation comes at the menu level -- both in the ordering process and how the food is made. While Bouland remains an investor and culinary advisor, the new menu was developed by Jeff Tenner.
The menu emphasizes the brand’s commitment to sustainability and global flavors.
Personalization is a core component, as well.
Most online ordering platforms allow customers to make substitutions to meet dietary needs after they select an entrée.
Spyce’s interface, on the other hand, does all the thinking for you.
When customers browse the menu (online, app or kiosk), they can choose what kind of dish they are looking for from a list of dietary preferences. Options: vegetarian, pescatarian, low carb, keto, vegan, Whole30, paleo, and low FODMAP (fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols)
Those looking to avoid a certain allergen or ingredient, can select from a list of eight options: tree nuts, gluten, soy, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, sesame.
For example, if a customer chooses vegan as a dietary option, the menu will only show entree choices with tofu or portobello as the base protein.
“The menu becomes tailored just to you,” Tenner said during the virtual tour held last week.
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