Clover Food Lab

Clover HFI

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I was introduced to Central Square when I came in to see my favorite band in the world: Morphine. They were playing at the World’s Fair in Central Square. I think that must have been 1995. I loved this band. I think Brooke was with me, I think that may have been the summer we first met. I have a photo I took of Sandman and Dana and Billy from the front row. I had that picture on my wall in college.

When I was trying to decide which college I should attend that experience played an enormous role. I’d gotten early admission at MIT, and also gotten into Stanford. So I was trying to decide between my top 2 choices. And I remember asking people at Stanford when they last went to San Francisco to a show, and the answer was usually never. And I remember thinking I wanted to go to school some place where I can go to Central Square and see Morphine, my favorite band in the world.

I got involved at the radio station my first year at MIT. It’s something I’d done in high school and I loved radio and music. At the MIT radio station, WMBR (Walker Memorial Basement Radio), there was this magic book. You could write your name in this book and you’d be on the guest list for basically any show in the city. I think I went out 3-4 nights a week my first 2 years at MIT. The best venue in the entire city was and is of course the Middle East.

The point: I love Central Square. I have for a lot of my life at this point. And I’ve always felt pretty defensive of Central. It was just the other year I was at an IDEO event (they have offices in central) and somebody was encouraging me to join some Central Square improvement group, and I remember asking, probably with more attitude that I should have: “what makes you think Central needs improvement?”

Central is definitely dirtier than other squares in Cambridge. It’s a hodge podge of businesses. Not all of those businesses are high end. OK, maybe none of them. There’s nothing sanitized about the Central Square experience. And I think this aspect of Central is probably what I find myself defending. Central feels less like Boston, more like New York. And like New York it’s a beautiful, if messy, collision of different types of people from different walks of life. And there is something invigorating about that. Central has room for everybody and I’ve always loved that egalitarianism at work.

I aim to write posts much shorter than this. But I’ll warn you all, this may be the first of a few long ones about Central. We’re opening the next Clover here in Central Square, at the former home of HiFi Pizza. I’m sad to see them go, they were such an institution. And I’m hoping Clover can be worthy of the corner they were operating for nearly 60 years. We’ll approach it with humility and try to create a place of which the residents of Central are proud. I want this Clover to be vibrant 60 years from now.

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Meals test, Day 1

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We tested our Clover MEALS idea for our WFM collaboration today at Kendall. We’ve already gotten some amazing feedback and we’re getting a bunch of good ideas. Thanks all for trying these and giving us your thoughts. We’ll have more tomorrow.

 

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CLOVER IS CREATING A NEW PROGRAM FOR CHEFS

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Ever wonder what it would be like to run a food truck? Want to spend the summer outside? Ready to learn how to run your own small business?

Clover runs the largest food truck company in the country. This year we’re trying something new. We’re creating a position of Chef Manager. We’re going to hire one person into a 6 month program. We’ll provide structure, training, a truck, a spot, support. We’ll look to this experienced Chef to operate the Clover truck day to day. This is a low risk way to try out a food truck/ learn more about Clover.

OUTLINE OF THE PROGRAM

- Chef Manager will be hired as a salaried employee day : $40,000 annual salary + benefits + potential bonus based on location performance.
- Chef Manager will be given a Clover truck, complete with location etc. to run for the summer.
- We will provide training/ support/ mentorship/ etc.
- You will join our weekly Food Development Meeting where you’ll learn about food and cutting edge sourcing practices.
- At the end of the season we’ll plan to sit down and discuss the experience. If you’d like to move on we’ll shake hands and be happy we have another friend in the culinary field. If you’re interested in pursuing a career within Clover and we love working with you, we’ll talk about future growth opportunities.

ARE YOU A CANDIDATE?

- We’re looking for candidates with at least 3 years experience cooking in a professional kitchen. We’re going to judge your culinary abilities.
- Candidates will have to demonstrate a serious work ethic and ability to lead others.
- Candidates should have an interest in learning how to run a business.

HOW TO APPLY

Send an email to our HR Director at megan@cloverfastfood. If you fit the bill, she will follow up with you right away.

 

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Clover meals launch at Kendall 4/22 at lunch

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Clover meals made their debut today at the Boston Marathon!

These meals are the result of our test at Brookline Village. Nutritionally balanced meals made of dips, spreads, and hearty salads. We’re imagining they might go places that Clover has never gone before.

Tomorrow they hit Clover Kendall. Come by 5 Cambridge Center, Cambridge at lunch tomorrow to taste what we’ve been working on. We’ve got some exciting items in these meals, including a brussel sprout salad and a silky hummus. We’re starting with a limited number of meals, and we’ll be asking for your feedback if you try them.

 

 

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Clover Arsenal launches MONDAY 4/28, 11am-2pm

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That’s me, trying to show my sister where the next Clover truck is going to be. That’s right, starting Monday there’s going to be a Clover truck at the Watertown Arsenal. Come find us near Athena Health and the theatre.

We’ll be there Monday-Friday for lunch, 11am-2pm, starting this Thursday. Chickpea fritter sandwiches, French Fries w/Rosemary, and a featured sandwich of the day. We can’t wait to meet you Watertown!!!

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Clover at the Boston Marathon 2014

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It’s hard to believe it, but it’s time for the Marathon. You can feel the excitement in the air. More and more folks are arriving to the city, and we’re getting ready to celebrate the day too.

We’ll be serving FREE breakfast and lunch at Heartbreak Hill in Newton, courtesy of Lululemon.

CLOVER AT THE BOSTON MARATHON 2014
At the Lululemon Cheer Station, Mile 21
Heartbreak Hill, Newton
April 21, 9am-2pm, or til the food lasts.
Breakfast sandwiches, yogurt and granola, popovers, and….

We’re going to be launching a brand new item: Clover PROTEIN Meals, designed for athletes and spectators alike. Come and be a part of this special day with us.

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Farmshare signups are live!

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We sent our staff on a little field trip the other week. That’s Clarice and Nicole making friends with some of the chickens at Stone Soup Farm. While we can’t promise you a trip to Western Mass, we’re offering you the next best thing this Thursday at our annual Meet the Farmer Night.

A little background. For the third summer, we are hosting farmshare pickups at 4 Clover restaurants. A farmshare or CSA is an agreement between you and a local farmer. You pay money up front, the farmer uses that money to buy seeds and hire people. Then, as a result of your up-front investment, you get a box of just-harvested produce every week from June-October. We think it’s the most cost-effective way to eat the best food. So we’re offering our restaurants free for farmers to drop their shares, and we’re offering our website for you to sign up.

Come to Meet the Farmer Night this Thursday, 6pm-8pm at the CloverHUB, 1075 Cambridge Street in Inman Square. It’s free and open to all. You can tell us you’re coming via this link.

FEATURED FARMS FOR SUMMER 2014:
Stone Soup Farm, Saturday pickups
Crimson and Clover Farm, Sunday pickups
Next Barn Over Farm, Tuesday pickups
Queen’s Greens Farm, Wednesday pickups
Enterprise Farm, Thursday pickups
Red Fire Farm, Friday pickups

Learn more at www.cloverfoodlab.com/farmshare.

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Spring Dug 2014

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We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting. I first learned about Spring Dug Parsnips the second year of Clover, back in 2009. They’re a little known item, farmed by only a few. Most Parsnips are harvested in the fall, and they’re parsnip-y. Like big white carrots that taste a bit like Rutabaga. Unlike their root vegetable cousins Parsnips can winter. And some farmers still do this. You leave the parsnips in the ground and pick them in the spring when the ground thaws. We’ve hooked up with Michael Docter, our favorite organic root farmer in Western Mass and we’re buying these by the pallet.

That’s right, the Spring Dug Parsnip is the first harvest of the season in New England. That thawing normally happens in March, but this year we’re a bit late. The best thing about Spring Dugs is that they’re super sweet and deep in flavor. Roasted they’re one of my favorite foods, hands down. Texture is awesome. They’re sweet, but savory. The flavor is complex and deep. This is what vegetables can be if we pay attention to them.

We just launched our Spring Dug Parsnip and Cheddar sandwich company-wide. This picture is from this past Wednesday, the second day of the sandwich. We’re pairing the parsnip with spring onions (which admittedly aren’t from New England quite yet, but will be soon), first pick spinach (which I think is from New England greenhouses, need to check with Chris on that), and sharp Cheddar cheese from our friends at Grafton in VT.

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Coffee robot

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Our friends from the Media Lab at MIT invited us to check out a demonstration the other day of a robotic coffee pouring machine. They’re calling it “Steadypour.” Fun project. It does some stuff we wouldn’t need, wetting filter, pouring in spiral, one arm that moves back and forth instead of a dedicated spout per cone. These features make it really fun to watch but are probably not necessary for great coffee.

The basic idea: a machine that does pour-over coffee is interesting to me. They told me one of the pieces of resistance they are experiencing is that Barista are afraid they wouldn’t get tips. Makes sense. They asked if we’d be interested in a pour over robot. If it delivered coffee that’s as good or better than what we do now I think we’d love it.

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Eat the future… Clover meals

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I have a feeling these could be huge. Who knows, maybe they’ll eclipse everything we’ve done to date. But in a way that would be fine. We’ve been working so hard over the past few years to build a company, not a sandwich.

This is one of the fun and surprising discoveries we made last week at Brookline when testing our Clover Meal Bar for WFM. A customer asked: “Am I going to fill this, or will you have these already filled.” We honestly hadn’t considered making these up ourselves at that point. And it may seem obvious after seeing this picture. But so many discoveries are like that. They feel obvious after you’ve seen them, even if opaque prior.

So we thought we’d give this suggestion a try. And they’re beautiful. And filling. And delicious. We have a few: Clover Winter Meal, Clover Mediterranean Meal, Clover Spicy Meal, Clover Southern Meal, Clover Protein Meal (the one you see here). They’re all a combination of hearty vegetable salads, pickles, and bean dips of some sort. Think hummus, white bean dip, etc. They’re nutritionally balanced. This one packs a hefty 60% of the protein Daily Recommended Value (for a 2,000 calorie diet). We’re hawking baked pita chips on the side for those who want them.

I brought some home. My kids were nuts for them. I shared them with my parents in law, they loved them. And I don’t think they were just saying that. Customers have been coming back for them, and telling friends. It’s been really fun and delicious. They’re super packable, sharable, delicious the day after (even though we’ve only been selling them same day). They’re packed with seasonally appropriate local produce, beans, etc. It’s just awesome.

We’re going to be piloting these at Kendall Square next week. Get ready folks. These are going to be really fun.

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