Technology

Sweetgreen's robotic Infinite Kitchen is finally open

The fully automated makeline is described as faster and more accurate, and could cut labor costs in half. A second location, converted from an existing restaurant, will come later this year.
The first Infinite Kitchen is in Naperville, Ill., outside Chicago./Photo courtesy of Sweetgreen.

Promising a faster and more convenient experience, Sweetgreen’s long-awaited, fully automated Infinite Kitchen restaurant made its debut on Wednesday in Naperville, Ill.

The automated makeline is an adaptation of the Spyce technology the company acquired in 2021. Over the past year and a half, Sweetgreen has been working to design what it describes as a “frictionless experience,” in which bowls are moved down a conveyor belt with guest selections being added along the way. The company said the automated system is faster, uses more exact portions and is more accurate.

Here’s a video that shows how it works.

 

The process is not entirely human free.

At the unit, guests are greeted by a host—a newly created position— who helps guide them through the process. Diners can order using self-service kiosks or ahead of time via the chain's app, but they can also order in the restaurant through the host. Once the bowl is created, a human at the end of the process adds final touches, like a sprinkle of herbs or scoop of avocado.

The Naperville restaurant also will feature a Tasting Counter, where guests can sample certain dishes before making their selection.

Digital screens in the restaurant will offer “brand storytelling,” and merch is also available that is specific to the Infinite Kitchen location.

Company officials declined to answer questions about the number of team members needed at the Infinite Kitchen, compared with traditional units. In November, the company said the technology is expected to cut labor costs in half while boosting throughput.

Jonathan Neman, the brand's CEO and co-founder, said in a statement, “We believe that automation will enable us to elevate the quality and integrity of our food, while also providing a faster and more convenient experience for our customers, and a better, more dynamic job for our team members. With the integration of our Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen in our restaurants, we can unlock efficiencies that will enable us to grow more quickly as we scale.”

A second Infinite Kitchen location is scheduled to open later this year. An existing unit will be converted to the automated technology, but the company has not yet said where it will be.

If the two units are as successful as anticipated, the company plans to start rolling out the technology as soon as next year.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Leadership

Restaurants bring the industry's concerns to Congress

Neary 600 operators made their case to lawmakers as part of the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference.

Financing

Podcast transcript: Virtual Dining Brands co-founder Robbie Earl

A Deeper Dive: What is the future of digital-only concepts? Earl discusses their work to ensure quality and why focusing on restaurant delivery works.

Financing

In the fast-casual sector, Chipotle laps Panera Bread

The Bottom Line: The two fast-casual restaurant pioneers have diverged over the past five years, as the burrito chain has thrived while Panera hit a wall. Here's why.

Trending

More from our partners