Sweetgreen co-founder and CEO Jonathan Neman is open to adding more automation at his restaurants to improve operations and help address the labor shortage plaguing the industry, but that doesn't mean human beings will get the boot.
"We believe humans will always be part of the Sweetgreen experience," Neman said on Yahoo Finance Live.
In August, the "better-for-you" restaurant chain purchased restaurant tech company Spyce Co. for an undisclosed sum. Spyce launched in 2015, focusing on developing restaurant technology that prepares food and ultimately delivers it to the consumer waiting in the store. Sweetgreen (SG) plans to integrate some of that technology over time into its locations.
Added Neman, "We just believe in continuing to invest in technology to enable them to do their job. We do that already with a lot of software inside our restaurants, but over time we like to continue to invest in that to elevate that role and make it easier and more joyful."
Investors likely devoured Sweetgreen on its IPO day on Thursday in part because of its tech-forward approach to operations, which includes a growing online order presence.
Shares of the 140-store chain soared 82% by afternoon trading to $51.81. The company priced its IPO at $28, above an expected range of $23 to $25.
The company is valued around $5.8 billion based on its current stock price as of this writing.
To be sure, Sweetgreen will have a lot to prove to investors who have placed a good deal of confidence in the company in the early going.
Sweetgreen has yet to turn a profit since launching in 2007. Through the first 39 weeks of this year, the company has hauled in $243 million in sales and posted an operating loss of $87 million.