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    Rhode Island Mushroom Co visit

    We’re launching a Mushroom Sandwich. We took a group of staff members to visit Rhode Island Mushroom ...

Rhode Island Mushroom Co visit

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We’re launching a Mushroom Sandwich. We took a group of staff members to visit Rhode Island Mushroom Company yesterday. It was an amazing operation. I had imagined a dark room filled with manure and soil.

It was more like a brightly lit lab meets greenhouse. Mike (owner) and Todd (mushroom scientist) spent a ton of time with us. I learned that mushrooms can make it rain by influencing the barometric pressure in an area. They can communicate with each other from hundreds of miles away. And they can clean up oil spills and destroy heavy metals.

Mushroom cultivators have learned a lot about how to influence the environment of a growing space to create different types of mushrooms, and RI Mushroom has seen explosive growth over the last year.

We’re offering a Mushroom CSA with RI Mushroom Co. right now. Signups are closed but we’ll have another one in the winter. Every week customers get a new mushroom to taste.  And we are hard at work on a Blue Oyster mushroom sandwich. We’ll be testing our first version on customers at CloverKND tomorrow, 11:30 til sold out.

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Paint our Pita

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I’m posting a call for artists in case you all know someone or want to try your hand…

In a few short weeks we will finish a project that started as a dream – to improve the biggest component of food that our customers eat every day. We will begin baking our own pita bread, on the order of 3,000 pieces per day. It doesn’t sound like a big accomplishment, but consider this.It took a translated-from-Hebrew Facebook page, a customs agent at Boston Harbor, thousands of dollars wired across the sea, 4 strong men, countless inspections, a natural gas shutdown of a block in East Cambridge, 50 test batches, an injured finger, a trip to one of Massachusetts’ only working wheat farms, and the creation of the first overnight prep shift at Clover.Our prized pita oven has traveled 5500 miles from its birthplace in the Middle East and is now fired up in East Cambridge.The result, we are hoping, is that Clover customers get to eat their sandwiches on better, fresher bread. We couldn’t be more excited and want to to share this story with our customers. We are looking for an artist to create murals in our 6 restaurants to illustrate the process.

PROCESS:

We’ll fill you in on all the steps it took to begin baking. You’ll translate into art. You’ll pitch us an idea. We’ll let you have a 5ft x 8 ft section of our restaurant as your canvass.

STYLE:

We are open to creativity and your own interpretation of this story. However, we are generally looking to keep this project pretty simple to execute. We are looking to do the same design at all restaurants.

PAY:

Based on experience, up to $3000 for six restaurant murals. Plus we will cover the cost of your materials and your travel to locations, we’ll throw you an art opening when the murals are revealed, and we’ll help get your name out into the world, if you’d like. Oh, and all the Clover pita you can eat for a year.

HOW TO APPLY:

Send us 3 examples of your current work, a resume, CV, or website, and 3-5 sentences on why you are excited by this project. Submit via email to Lucia Jazayeri, Director of Communications, lucia@cloverfoodlab.com.

DEADLINE TO APPLY:

Wednesday, July 8, 8am

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Strawberry Broccoli Sandwich launching Thursday

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We thought we had to send Enzo’s strawberry sandwich to the vault until next year. We did all this development work only to find we had missed strawberry season at Lookout Farm.

Joe Czaijowski came through with a miracle: 100 cases of Hadley strawberries.

Join us for lunch on Thursday. The sandwich has a sweet and spicy strawberry spread, soy marinated-then-fried tofu, and a broccoli, cashew, cabbage slaw and soy aioli. We served 100 orders at Kendall on Friday to get feedback and we’re launching the updated version on Thursday.

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Clover + Kosher update

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Wow, thanks all for the outpouring of support. I think Ayr’s post was the most-commented-on of any post so far!

I wanted to answer some of the most common questions.

1. The HUB and the trucks are now Kosher. The products we’re going to be selling in Whole Foods later this year will be Kosher.

2. All large catering orders, and all truck catering (ex: weddings where we bring the truck to you and serve food) are now Kosher.

3. The other restaurants will be certified Kosher over the coming 2 weeks.

Thanks to Rabbi Barry Dolinger of Congregation Beth Shalom in Rhode Island who is supervising our certification and helping to make this happen. We’ll upload a copy of the certification to the blog soon, and we’ll be putting little decals at the restaurants and trucks.

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This is what Kashering looks like

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I’m not Jewish. I was raised going to a small New England brick congregationalist church a couple of towns over from where I grew up. But I’ve wanted Clover to be Kosher for a long time. I had a colleague at McKinsey who kept fairly strict Kosher, and I was shocked what a nightmare it was for her to try to find food she could eat. I have no idea how many people in Boston keep Kosher, but I want Clover to be accessible to everybody and I started thinking about getting Kosher certification a long time ago.

When we built the HUB we bought special vegetable washing equipment that I thought could help with this. Now, many years later, we’re going through our first Koshering. One of our customers, a student at MIT, talked to me a couple of months ago and introduced me to Rabbi Dolinger and we started talking in more detail about what it would take. I couldn’t be happier that we’re making this work.

That’s Rabbi Dolinger on the left, Chris on the right. They are boiling many full pots of water. The ovens are all running full blast, and we’ve limited dinner service at the HUB. Sorry everybody, but it’s for a great reason!

To be honest I’m not entirely sure how fast the process works, but I’ll let you know when we’re official. We’re going to Kasher all Clover operations including all trucks and all restaurants and our commissary. That means our upcoming items sold at Whole Foods will be Kosher. This is really exciting for us all.

 

 

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Strawberries are here: get them before they’re all gone

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Strawberries are in. Strawberries have a tiny season in New England (usually 2-3 weeks). We’re getting them from Lookout Farm in Natick, which is a really fun place to visit if you have kids.

You can find strawberries at Clover in:

Lemonade (every day at all locations)
Strawberries and cream (at restaurants at 3pm)
New Chinese-inspired strawberry broccoli sandwich (launching this week!)

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Clover Cambros

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We’ve been working with the company Cambro who makes the containers we use. When we first got them to send somebody to visit Clover their jaws dropped. We use Cambro unlike any other customer they have. Cambro is the Rubbermaid of commercial kitchens. But at Clover I wanted to commit to a food system that would minimize waste. So when we started using our commissary we wanted containers that were reusable, that would allow us to keep the container in the system instead of throwing it away. So we have mountains of Cambro containers. They are the common container in our company.

Cambro told us last visit that they could print on the containers for us. We were psyched. So these are some from the first batch. The main reason for these was to manage what we call “onion-y” flavors. We’ve used tape in the past but it’s a mess. But basically if we ever use a container for an onion, ever, we don’t want it to ever hold anything that isn’t “onion-y.” So now these are all color coded and printed for us so that we don’t make any mistakes or have to put up with tattered tape.

It’s all sort of insider, hopefully I’ve done a decent job describing what we’re doing. But know that this is a huge deal to us. We’re so excited. And if you’re in the food industry and want an intro to the Cambro folks let us know. They’ve been helping us innovate.

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Clover NEW update: MBTA battery bank

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We’re going to get this location on Newbury open. I’m determined to make CloverNEW happen. Sorry it has taken like 4 years.

The other day I got a tour of the power substation that’s right behind our site. Really cool, right? I think you could fit every one of our restaurants under this one roof. I had no idea how expansive it was. There are many of these, I think he said 38?, scattered round the T system. We need to make sure our work, hammering concrete, doesn’t shake and disrupt any of these electronics.

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Clover DC: update

  
So some of you have been wondering and asking what is up with DC. I was down there a bunch last summer but haven’t posted on our plans for a while. We backed out of a location last September just before signing lease. So you might be wondering what’s up.

We’re committed to DC as our next region. 2015 saw some stunning opportunities for Clover in Boston (of which HFI is one) and fundraising took longer than I expected last year, and so we slowed down on DC a bit. But we didn’t back away from our plan, just slowed down.

We hired Sean on as an area manager and he’s been commuting up from DC since this past July. Sean is now a fully integrated and critical part of the Clover team and we’re expecting he will bring Clover good-ness to DC in high fidelity. We’ve been scouting sites and are hoping to get a lease signed in the next 3-6 weeks. Then we’ll start learning what it takes to get a truck down there leading up to our launch.
I’ll be in DC Monday with Sean walking the streets. The other week we got the tour from our Real Estate guy down there. This time I want to walk neighborhoods on my own (with Sean). We’re focused on Chinatown, downtown, and 14th St.  We want to find 2 great sites to kick everything off. Small is ok.

The picture is of Kayla, our server at Maketto. She was asking questions, we said we were from Boston. She used to live in Boston and jumped up and down when I said we were from Clover. So we know we have at least 1 fan in DC already. (And the feeling is mutual, Erik is doing amazing stuff at Maketto.)

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Clover + Harvard Medical School

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We don’t talk about it too much, but one of the secret goals of Clover is to improve peoples’ health. We’ve had our fair share of stories of this happening, although nothing quite as crazy as Steve’s story. I was talking to Paul today and realized we had never posted about “our Jared.”

Steve, a customer in Burlington, ate with us every day for a year. He has diabetes and now doesn’t have to take insulin. His doctor asked him, “What have you been doing?” and he responded, “I just started eating at a restaurant.” He has offered to stand outside his diabetes clinic in Longwood and hand out fliers about Clover. We haven’t taken him up on that yet. But we were super excited when Harvard Medical School invited us to cater their “Treating Obesity” course today and Saturday. The truck is open to the public too. Catch us at the Marriot Long Wharf today (Thursday) and Saturday from 11-2pm.

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