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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sweetgreen, the quick-service restaurant chain that recently filed for an IPO, acquired Spyce, an automated kitchen startup that operates two of its own restaurants in Boston.

Why it matters: This is all about pandemic consequences. For Sweetgreen, that means hedging against labor shortages like the one currently impeding all service industries. For Spyce, which planned to both sell its robotic tech and build its own restaurant brand, that's an acknowledgment that the latter was too difficult in this environment.

Details: Word is that it's an all-stock deal, initially valued just above the $60 million where Spyce last raised VC funding from investors like Khosla Ventures, Maveron, Dragon Capital, Collaborative Fund and chef Daniel Boulud.

The bottom line: "The company's robotic kitchen and conveyor belts are able to cook and serve its warm bowls and salads without any human intervention," writes CNBC's Amelia Lucas.

  • "Sweetgreen said the deal is intended to improve the customer experience by filling orders faster and more accurately and giving its employees more time to focus on preparing food."

Go deeper

Minnesota's ultimate farm-to-table restaurant opens in Minneapolis

The restaurant is decorated with Minnesota Farmers Union memorabilia. Photo: Audrey Kennedy/Axios

Farmers Kitchen and Bar, the first restaurant entirely owned and operated by the Minnesota Farmers Union, opens today in downtown Minneapolis.

State of play: After pausing the project last year due to the pandemic, the restaurant is finally in business, albeit with limited hours until it can hire more staff.

  • It sources meat, dairy, produce, grains and other ingredients from dozens of farms across the state, and sells local products from a small marketplace inside the restaurant.

What I ate: I tried the bison wild rice meatballs, walleye "tots" with tartar sauce and the Fern + Dale, a turkey sandwich with bacon and cranberry relish named after Ferndale Market turkey farm in Cannon Falls. The sandwich was my favorite.

Zoom out: Local farmers have faced crop shortages and other pitfalls as drought conditions remain across the state.

  • Jerry and Sue Untiedt of Untiedt Farms in Waverly, which supplies fruits and vegetables to the restaurant and grocers across the state, said they've received less than half an inch of rain this year.
  • "This place isn't about the money for us," Jerry Untiedt said about Farmers Kitchen. "It's about exposing the Twin Cities to fresh and local food, and educating them on the supply chain behind it."

If you go: Farmers Kitchen and Bar is open Wednesday through Sunday from 7:30am-4pm, with the full-service menu served from 10am-4pm.

3 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.

GOP congressman forfeits committee seats after indictment

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday stepped down from his committee assignments after being indicted for lying to federal investigators amid a probe into illegal campaign donations.

What they're saying: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry said he is "grateful for the outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues as we work against the injustice confronting me."