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Robots Will Soon Make You Dinner at Midnight in Harvard Square

Robot-fueled restaurant Spyce, located in Downtown Crossing, could expand to Cambridge

A wide angle of a restaurant with low wooden tables against a wall bench and a high wooden bar, both angling towards a kitchen with metal barrel tumblers for tossing food
Spyce in Downtown Crossing
Sarah Storrer/Eater

A high-tech restaurant planning expansion to Cambridge’s Harvard Square could serve up late-night meals prepared by robots. Downtown Boston’s Spyce, which does indeed staff humans as well, has a robot-powered kitchen that churns out salads and grain bowls for customers, and it could open at 1 Brattle St. in the former Chipotle space. The restaurant is seeking a full liquor license and hopes to operate until 4 a.m. on some nights, per its application to the licensing board. (See October 30 update below for updates to the proposed schedule, liquor license, and more.)

Four MIT graduates developed the technology behind Spyce, attracting the attention of acclaimed French restaurateur and chef Daniel Boulud, who threw his weight and investment into the project, as well as culinary advice. The first Spyce robot-powered restaurant opened in May 2018 (241 Washington St., Downtown Crossing, Boston).

A year ago, Spyce announced that it had raised $21 million in Series A funding to fuel East Coast expansion; the Harvard Square location is apparently the first piece of the puzzle. In addition to Boulud, several other celebrity chefs contributed to the funding, including Thomas Keller, Jérôme Bocuse, and Gavin Kaysen.

“Our purpose is to increase access to wholesome and delicious food for people at all income levels,” Grace Uvezian, Spyce’s head of marketing and public relations, previously told Eater. Spyce’s model incorporates technology and strategic sourcing to be able to sell bowls for $7.50. The menu includes options suitable for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diners.

An overhead view of a grain bowl with roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, bok choy, and more
Spyce Thai bowl: roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, and bok choy in a massaman curry sauce with brown rice, fried garlic and shallots, and herb salad
Sarah Storrer/Eater

While the Downtown Crossing restaurant only operates until 10 p.m., Harvard’s Spyce could take a stab not just at late-night dining, but also alcohol sales: The proposed hours of operation are from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. If the restaurant is approved for its liquor license, it would sell beverages until 2 a.m.

The restaurant could have seating for 55, with a potential patio as well. Eater has reached out for more details on the timing of Spyce’s opening in Harvard Square and will provide updates when further information becomes available.

A black-and-white GIF of the Spyce robotic kitchen in action
The kitchen in action at Spyce’s original Downtown Crossing location
Sarah Storrer/Eater

Update, October 30, 2019: At a recent appearance in front of the licensing commission, the Spyce team shared a few additional details about the planned Cambridge location. For one, it seems that the 4 a.m. closing time is no longer part of the plan — instead, the restaurant could operate until 1 a.m., with a 22-seat seasonal patio closing at 11 p.m. (The headline of this story, which initially teased 3 a.m. robotic food, has been updated accordingly.) Spyce is also hoping to serve beer, wine, and cider at this location, and the space will include a stage that could be used for monthly kids’ classes on technology and robotics. Spyce could open at some point in 2020.

Robotic Kitchen, Spyce, Opens in Downtown Boston [EBOS]
Downtown Boston’s Robotic Restaurant Gets $21 Million to Fund Expansion [EBOS]
Attend Meetings on Central Square Bike Lanes, Revamp at CambridgeSide [CD]
Spyce [Official Site]


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