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Robo Stop

Robo Stop

At Spyce, the food is fresh, delicious and anything but robotic

The rise of robots in foodservice has been met with varying degrees of resistance and downright skepticism. After all, chefs don’t operate on auto pilot, and restaurants thrive on the human touch, so how can this possibly work? At Boston’s Spyce, very nicely, thank you.

Proudly billed as the world’s first restaurant to feature a robotic kitchen cooking complex meals to order, Spyce’s novelty and affordability has been drawing record crowds since its May 2018 opening. But it’s the fresh, delicious food that’s bringing them back. Much credit goes to the team of chefs backing the innovative venture that reads like a virtual who’s who of the culinary world: Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jerome Bocuse and Gavin Kaysen.

It’s also due to the genuine desire of its MIT-educated founders to provide “delicious and wholesome food without the expected price tag.” At an average of $7.50 for a bowl filled to the brim with fresh vegetables, proteins, grains and pasta, it’s a mission accomplished.

The meals roll out rapidly enough to satisfy even the most time-pressed diner. Customers use the self-ordering kiosk to key in their preferences. Ingredients are portioned and tossed into one of seven induction-heated woks by a transport system. Food is tumbled constantly to ensure an even sear, and poured into bowls when fully cooked. Total time: three minutes. From there, a garde manger adds cold ingredients from the counter and puts the final flourish on the meal, taking its cue from traditional French restaurants.

The all-important hospitality factor is never lost in the efficiencies, assures Grace Uvezian, Spyce spokesperson. In fact, she continues, there’s a singular focus on customer service from front-of-house guides, who “make our guests feel warmly welcomed and foster a connection typical at high-end restaurants.”

That approach is what first piqued the interest of award-winning Chef Gavin Kaysen, who operates two of Minnesota’s hottest restaurants, Spoon and Stable and Bellecour.

“Their use of innovative technology and engineering to deliver a consistent product is driven by the desire to best service their guests, which is what motivates me every day as a chef,” he says.

With 500 guests a day, the concept is clearly working and more growth is planned. A kitchen redesign to expand menu variety and customization and additional locations in Boston are slotted for 2019. Uvezian says they constantly seek feedback from customers on how to enhance their experience, and the positive response has been remarkable. As one customer recently wrote: “Fast, cheap, good, pick two…in my opinion, Spyce nails three out of three.”

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