Chipotle said Thursday it’s investing in two companies that have the potential to accelerate its growth — one that automates kitchen operations and another that makes plant-based versions of chicken and steak with mushrooms.
The Newport Beach, California-based company said Cultivate Next, its $50 million venture fund, will invest in Hyphen and Meati Foods.
Hyphen uses robotics to automate portioning out bowls and plates without the need for staff, Chipotle said in a release. Hyphen says its technology can make over 350 meals an hour.
The investment comes amid nationwide staffing shortages and is not Chipotle’s first foray into automation investment. The company recently invested in Nuro, an automated delivery company, before creating its Cultivate Next fund.
“Our goal is to drive efficiencies through collaborative robotics that will enable Chipotle’s crew members to focus on other tasks in the restaurant,” Chipotle’s Chief Technology Officer Curt Garner said in a statement.