Clover Food Lab

3D printed light “field”


One of the ideas my architects presented for Clover HFI was to use “corncob” LED lights to make a field of lights. As with most of the ideas they have that I can’t picture I said: “sure, can I see what it looks like?” I’m really bad at imagining spaces that don’t exist. It’s why I need these little physical models.

They used a 3D model printer to print simulated lights. I’m including a picture here of the lights “hanging” upside-down off the ceiling. That is, the ceiling has been removed in this picture and placed on its back, so those lights would normally be “hanging” down not up. We thought the LED cloud would be a nice extension of the fluorescent clouds we started with in Harvard Square and have continued to improve through Kendall.

They made a little movie too. I like the effect. What do you think?


3pm special: Zucchini Fritters


Local zucchini is in! Look out for it in a raw zucchini salad and in our current 3pm special.

We’re grating up zucchini, frying it in a batter, and tossing with cinnamon and sugar. These fritters are pillowy and light, and if you are a parent of a child who is afraid of zucchini, this may be the perfect introduction.

Come on by after 3pm at the restaurants – and at CloverPRK for a taste.


Lorraine’s Salad


Lorraine is an intern from Babson College working with Megan on HR projects. Part of her internship is that she gets to attend our Food Development meetings. After a few meetings, she came up with a salad. Shredded broccoli, beets, carrots, white balsamic, lemon juice, olive oil, shallots, cashews, raisins, brown mustard.

We don’t send just any salad out to customers. First, we have to think it tastes really good. We liked Lorraine’s salad enough to send it to you guys. This will be rolling to locations next week, with some slight updates (we’re thinking chives will add a really nice bite.)

If you see Lorraine tell her congrats! If you want to intern at Clover, head over to our Careers page.



Harvard menu ughhh


When we renovated Harvard Square in January, we moved from A-frames on the floor to this Fin. (I think it looks like a totem pole.) You might remember the A-frames were kind of a nightmare. These menus are much easier to see, they accommodate longer lines, and you don’t have to look down to order. But these screens are horizontal, not vertical. Which meant we needed to submit a whole new job from our programmers: to make our live menu display horizontally.

We’re still waiting on this job, so in the meantime I’ve been making static menus. I make PDFs. I throw them up on the screen via Air Drop. And honestly, they work pretty horribly for Clover, since everything is changing all the time.

Here’s my latest effort, incorporating feedback from our HSQ staff. I highlighted all the items that change in yellow. Sorry, Harvard customers and order-takers! Bear with us. We should have a truly dynamic menu soon.


Are we employing more hens than people?


Since we started Clover, we’ve gotten our eggs from Chip-In Farm in Bedford, MA. We love these eggs because we can visit the farm any time. And more importantly, because we can get them within days of being laid, as opposed to grocery store eggs that may be up to 90 days old. (You can tell they’re fresh because they’re a pain to peel. )

You’ve been eating Chip-In eggs if you’ve had the breakfast sandwich, or popovers, or Egg+Eggplant sandwich or platter at lunch. They’ve got beautiful yellow yolks.

We’ve been running up against supply issues. Chris was talking to the farmer. And he shared this crazy statistic. We’re now going through 5100 eggs each week. Chip-In has added more henhouses. But as we get bigger we’re going to need to search for a second egg supplier. We’re considering a place called Nellie’s Nest that combines eggs from many small family farms. And there’s a place called Pete and Jen’s that’s pretty expensive.


Clover Central Square hearing moved to Tuesday

HIFI_Model Photos

Here’s what happened: we had a hearing scheduled to consider Clover HFI’s application for a common victualler license (an old Massachusetts thing that’s required for operating a restaurant). I was late and so our hearing was moved to this coming Tuesday.

If you’ve been reading you know we’re applying for a 24 hour license, a first for us, and I believe would be the only in Cambridge. There have been 24 hour licenses in Cambridge in the past, I remember the Tasty in Harvard Square was a 24 hour joint, not the burger place that took that name, but the original Tasty that was a Diner.

These hearings are typically on Tuesdays every other week. We get a notice of hearing, but not the agenda. A friend called for the agenda and we were told we were the last 2 items. While the meetings get going at 6pm, I’ve never been to one that closed before 8:00pm, and I’ve even had the experience in the past where I’ve been there the whole meeting only to be told I would have to return the following week because they ran out of time to hear my issue.

Well this past Tuesday I screwed up. I arrived at the meeting at 6:35. I had a manager meeting prior, but given that we were the last 2 items on the agenda I thought this wouldn’t be an issue. I was one block away when our Landlord called me and said “they are all leaving!” I told him I was literally around the corner. He asked them to hold the meeting but by the time I got there 30 seconds later they were adjourned. Crazy unlucky! So we’re up again this week. Wish us luck!

(picture is another photo of the physical model we’re using to prototype the new space. Corner entrance at lower left.


Clover + Vecna


We park a truck in the Vecna parking lot 8am-2pm Tuesdays and Thursdays right across from Alewife station. After some shuffling around of managers, we have a wonderful team. You may have met Petra, or Jackie, or Brett while in line one of these days. They’re doing a great job.

Megan from Vecna had an idea when we first got started. She has the coolest job (she’s the Chief Fun Officer, and she’s in charge of organizing activities for all the 300 folks who work at Vecna). For such a small company it’s pretty awesome to see all the fun stuff they’ve got going on. Mountain-climbing trips, cooking clubs, farmshares in the break room.

She buys all the food for the break room too. She thought, instead of getting grocery store salads delivered from Peapod, why not reach out to Clover?  So in addition to the food truck, we’re also making salads for the salad bar in their break room. These are hearty salads: grains, beans, roasted vegetables. No leafy greens. If you’ve been experiencing Clover at Vecna, what do you think? What could we be doing differently? Better?


Clover HFI model


So we still have some things to work out from a licensing standpoint. The previous tenant has what is called “pocket license” which is temporarily preventing us from applying for a beer license. And our hearing was rescheduled from last week to next week because I was late to the hearing last week (a funny story for another post).

But the design is moving forward, and I think John, Jinhee, and Taylor, over at Single Speed Design, are doing a bang up job. A few projects back I decided I couldn’t make good decisions with virtual models on a screen and we started building these physical scale models. We’re making a collection of them and it’s awesome. This one is a masterpiece. Doesn’t it look surreal sitting their on the old HiFi counter? Almost like it’s photoshopped in.

They made working lights in this model and a “cloud” array of little tiny LED lights (you can see them hanging in this picture). Those were made on a 3-D printer. We’re working with our landlord to replace the storefront with big panes of clear glass. We’ll have seating at the windows. And the kitchen will be next to the corner entrance.

It’s really exciting to see this take shape. I’ll post some more pics later this week.


Clover in Sweden


A customer stopped by the HUB with a Swedish magazine. We were featured in an article about Boston. It’s always fun to see these little dispatches from other parts of the world.


Intelligentsia Coffee: Finca Matalapa


The red fat bag is back, and I’m really happy. Like all Intelligentsia coffees, this Finca Matalapa smells incredible whenever I open the bag. It’s from El Salvador, in a microclimate where mountains intersect with the Pacific Ocean.

Ayr and Rolando visited Intelligentsia’s LA roastery back in 2010 on the first-ever Clover culinary trip.

TRIVIA: What did the folks at Intelligentsia tell Ayr and Rolando about adding dairy to coffee? I’m looking for an exact quote here. I’m working Clover Burlington this morning, come say hi. Tell me the answer to this trivia question and I’ll buy your cup.