Did we say Wednesday? We meant Thursday…

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[UPDATE: Our opening today is pending pre-operation inspections by each town. So far, none of these have been completed yet. So hold tight, and stay tuned for updates. Super sorry for the fits and starts, we want to get everything perfect before we let you in the door!]

This is Dave. He thinks I’m doing a good job, even if I’m feeling like a bit of a failure.

OK, here’s the deal. We said Wednesday, I know. We thought Wednesday was going to be our day. But it’s going to be Thursday. Sorry all! I mean, this is embarrassment on top of embarrassment.

The short story is that we’re waiting for employee tests to clear and do not yet have a critical mass to operate the way you trust us to operate. We’re expecting to have some more employees cleared tomorrow, which would support a Thursday open of the restaurants. Sorry trucks, you’re going to wait until we’re operating on something more than 40% staffing levels company-wide.

Here’s the longer story:

We just spent the entire day with two of the most senior inspectors in Massachusetts. As I said before, I have great respect for them. They seem to be really good at what they do, deeply experienced, and they take this all seriously. It’s just what you’d want.

Then, as of around 6:50 I got off a conference call with the State officials in charge of this investigation who are working another late night to help us through all of this and protect you all. We learned:
(a) No new cases. Whew. We’re always hoping to hear that. As of Thursday we’ll be 4 weeks without a confirmed case. That’s good news for everybody
(b) We’re approved to operate our commissary kitchen as we wait for final state issuance of a wholesale permit. This is great news and means we get to operate our kitchen again, this time under State supervision. And honestly, the limited open (due to not all locations being staffed yet) means we get to ramp up slowly and carefully. Which is good for everybody.
(c) We’re cleared to operate all of our restaurants. As I said, we don’t yet have enough employees cleared to do so, but we’re cleared to go. This is also great news.

OK, so that’s the good news. Bad news is I told you we were opening tomorrow. I thought we were. I was counting on more results from the lab than we got. Sorry. It’s our fault, we’ve overwhelmed them. They’re not used to processing volumes like these.

The other bad news is that I fielded a lot of phone calls today from press. And I told them we were planning to open tomorrow, pending employee tests, which I expected. Sorry folks. I’m bracing myself for your wrath. Sorry!!! Please forgive me.

29 Responses to Did we say Wednesday? We meant Thursday…

  1. Steph M 23 July, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    We will be thrilled to have you back. Thanks for your continued candor and diligence in this! Counting down to chickpea platter goodness…

  2. TinoBoston 24 July, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    I was so looking forward to a coffee and breakfast :(

    Tomorrow it is.

    Thanks

  3. ayr 24 July, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Sorry!

  4. Dave 24 July, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Will you still be doing “working interviews” when you reopen? Where you have untrained people work unpaid and without supervision in the kitchen for 3 or 4 hours to see if they’ve got what it takes to be clover material? Seems like a good way to give people food poisoning and exploit people for free labor.

  5. db 24 July, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Better safe than sorry! We can wait another day :)

  6. jesse 24 July, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Hi Ayr,

    I have not been coming to Clover much at all for several months for a variety of reason (happy to detail another time). That said, the fact that you made sure employees got pais during this time and information about the steps you are taking around the illnesses may have qon me back as a customer.

    Chin up – everything will be better tomorrow

  7. Josie 24 July, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Thursday rocks anyway! Chin-up folks! I can’t wait for the french fry party next chance we get.

    *does free french-fry dance*

    Oh, and Sandy, I’m comin to Havad as soon as the smoke clears. Get your gluten free vegan fryolater ready!

    See you all soon! You rock my socks off!
    Josie

  8. Eric 24 July, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    It’s odd that everything that’s happened over the last few weeks has coincided with a cyclospora infection outbreak that has happened between mid-June to early July (although no cases have been reported in Massachusetts, according to this article from Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/07/24/cdc-250-in-6-states-have-unidentified-stomach-bug/).

  9. Lorrie K 24 July, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    I love how transparent you have been throughout this whole process. I cannot wait for you to reopen. I will be there for lunch for sure!! YOU’VE BEEN MISSED!!!!

  10. Tim McCormack 24 July, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Well, they say hunger is the best spice… :-P

  11. Matthew 24 July, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Ashley, my partner, explained why we trust you. I won’t repeat everything she wrote.

    I would like to ask you to consider one thing: paper towels. The clover restrooms I’ve been in don’t have paper towels.

    Let me quote the CDC’s recommended hand hygiene procedure: “Dry your hands using a paper towel if possible. Then use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door if needed.” (from: http://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/PDF/CDC_HandHygiene_Brochure.pdf )

    I’ll also link to this review in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings ( http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196%2812%2900393-X/fulltext#sec2.2 ) which says “Most studies have found that paper towels can dry hands efficiently, remove bacteria effectively, and cause less contamination of the washroom environment. From a hygiene standpoint, paper towels are superior to air dryers; therefore, paper towels should be recommended for use in locations in which hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals and clinics. ”

    Especially since clover doesn’t have automatic taps or doors, I’d greatly appreciate the option to dry my hands, turn off the tap, and open the door using paper towels.

  12. Tim McCormack 24 July, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    To be clear, since my other comment could have been taken as snarky: I’m looking forward to the DWY food truck coming back, and I don’t blame you for lateness. These things happen!

  13. Slumsofharvard 24 July, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Can’t wait! Would it seem too stalker-ish to start camping out at the Harvard square location this evening?

  14. yourALLscrewed 24 July, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    your all an embarassment to the food truck industry!! what did you expect hiring people at 7$ a hour an never paying them on time?!?!

  15. Tara 24 July, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    I am looking forward to it! I will make it a point! I <3 Clover! Thanks so much for the open integrity. That's what you're all about….and then some.

  16. Steve L 24 July, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    You’ve handled the whole mess with a deft and careful hand, frankly. Looking forward to voting for your business with my wallet again soon.

  17. Beth 25 July, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    Thrilled to have the Brookline Village peeps back! Thanks for your full disclosure!
    Totally loyal fan!
    Beth

  18. PBo1 25 July, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    I think that you have been handling this whole situation very well. I appreciate how candid you have been with infirmation in regards to the cases of salmonella and what may have caused them. However, the way you have communicated about your Brookline store being closed, and when it is going to reopen, has been poorly done and frustrating. Don’t post (on the door) that you will only be closed for certain dates if you don’t truly know how long you will be closed. Don’t post (on the door and your website) that you will be open unless you truly know that you will be open (on time). I have showed up many mornings now, based on information YOU have provided, only to find the store closed again.

    I will certainly continue to patronize your restaurants, because I like the food and the ideas behind the food, but please stop (inadvertently) lying to your customers.

  19. lucia 25 July, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    That’s awesome.

  20. Matthew 25 July, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    I understand you may not want to approve all comments that are submitted. This is your space, your brand, etc.

    But if you choose to moderate a comment that asks you to adopt hand hygiene practices that are recommended by the experts (i.e. CDC) and links to a meta-analysis in support of that recommendation – it would be great if you’d email the poster and explain. I hope, and expect, the explanation would go something like “the language wasn’t appropriate for the website but we’re going to implement that suggestion/we’re talking to our own experts about it and we’ll let you know what we decide.”

    I don’t expect you to personally respond to every inappropriate comment. I don’t expect you to respond to spam. But I think my comment made it very clear Ashley and I are long time customers who want to trust your operation. You’re asking for my trust. Your CEO has said publicly, on this very blog, “We’re going to build the best procedures in the business for food safety.” I made a sound, science based suggestion towards that goal, to improve hand hygiene at Clover. I think I deserve a response.

  21. Jon Finkel 25 July, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    > Sorry folks. I’m bracing myself for your wrath. Sorry!!! Please forgive me.

    You’re apologizing too much. The reasons for which you’re opening on Thursday instead of on Wednesday are beyond your control. Feeling that we’d get angry is assuming we’re idiots.
    But if you’re that concerned, next time say “We hope to be open on Wednesday.” instead of “We will be open on Wednesday.”.

  22. lucia 25 July, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    Jesse,

    Would love to know more. Feel free to email me offline,

    Lucia

  23. lucia 25 July, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    Matthew,

    We do have paper towels in the bathrooms. Each bathroom has a paper towel dispenser. New restaurants are automatic; HSQ and HUB have the rolling/circular ones.

    We check the bathrooms each hour to refill them.

    Thanks,
    Lucia

  24. Marge 25 July, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    Wishing for clover out here in Oregon! Xo

  25. Matthew 26 July, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Lucia,

    thank you for replying :)

    Clover Burlington doesn’t have paper towels. My understanding is that neither does Clover Brookline.

    I was under the impression that was by design – the new stores would try to save on paper. I may very well have misunderstood – in fact, I probably have. I understand something like installing a paper towel dispenser can be pretty far down on he punch list. So will Burlington be getting a paper towel dispenser?

    thanks!
    matthew

  26. ayr 29 July, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Matthew –

    You’re absolutely right. We decided to go with dryers in the new bathrooms. We use paper towels at our handsinks in the kitchen.

    If I understand from your previous comment the largest advantage of the paper towel is being able to grab the door handle with it, is that right? I’ve seen doors that don’t require you to touch the handle. Maybe we could use that in the future.

  27. lucia 8 August, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    That would be really fun!! We’re actually contemplating the West Coast…

  28. lucia 8 August, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    Sorry for the bad communication. I think we were a little too optimistic during those uncertain days. Have you been back since?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Clover News: Fries and Movies | another day in the slums of Harvard - 24 July, 2013

    [...] on my way home yesterday and it appears that the Harvard Square location is still closed. But word on the street says that they will reopen on Thursday . With free fries. This is one type of bribery of which I [...]

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