Pumpkin beer and pumpkin carving last night


Thanks all who joined for the launch of Jack’s Abby Beer. If you didn’t get a chance to join, you can taste the beer on tap at CloverHSQ and CloverKND starting tonight.

This beer is a Pumpkin Lager brewed using pumpkins from Valente Farm and malt from Valley Malt. Sam from Jack’s Abby had an idea to give every customer a pumpkin to carve.

It was really fun to see people hard at work in the restaurant. It got us thinking that maybe all our events should have a make-your-own component. What do you think?


We picked Concord grapes this morning


Chris took us on a field trip to harvest Concord Grapes this morning.

Expect to see these hitting the menu tomorrow and Friday.  Concord grape lemonade. Concord grape whoopie pies. Concord grape soda.


Clover + WFM is live!


We launched our Whole Foods collaboration last month. Paul is leading up our efforts there, and he’s been doing a great job getting everything figured out.

Right now you can find Clover food in the salad bar and prepared foods section of the Inkblock location in the South End. It’s a beautiful store. In time you’ll see our food at all of the busiest Whole Foods in the city.

We’re changing the menu every few weeks, using an insane amount of local and organic stuff. Paul is going to be in-store most days sampling food at lunchtime and dinnertime.


Black Bean Spread
Rustic Hummus
Beluga Lentil Salad
Farro Broccoli Salad
Pickled Carrots
Pickled Cabbage
Pickled Red Onions





Meet Lynn. This one’s a long time overdue. If you eat at HSQ you’ve heard her sunny voice sailing out from behind the column where the breakfast sandwiches are made.

Lynn has a degree from Boston College and grew up on Long Island. She spent the last few years running multiple Magnolia Bakeries in New York City, including the one in Grand Central Station. Because of this Lynn came to us with experience running massive crews in all kinds of situations. One of the first things Lynn ever said to me was “At my last job, a customer punched me in the face!” Ask her about this next time you’re by, it’s a great story.

We can’t say enough good things about Lynn. She’s tough and sweet and super intelligent and will always tell you what she really thinks. She also this ability to discern your spirit animal. Unfortunately it takes a while for certain peoples’ animals to become apparent. I’m still waiting on mine. Please, God, say it’s not a jellyfish. Lynn took over Harvard Square at a time when staffing was in horrible shape, and has since mentored some of our most amazing leaders, like Scott, Jerry, Rob, Kate, Stacia, One, and Shane.

Want to join Lynn’s team at HSQ and get a spirit animal of your own someday? Apply online. Think you could be the next Lynn? There’s an application for that, too.


“Ayr, there’s no bread”


A couple of weeks ago, right after I’d come back from vacation, Dave left me a message at 6:30am. I didn’t get it until 7:30am. I was on my way to NYC to meet with a candidate to lead Finance at Clover. Dave’s message sounded urgent and said “call me.”

So I found out that we had no bread. None. Chris had left for paternity leave over the weekend, the team baking the bread had an issue turning the oven on the night before and unable to reach Chris had left. So we had no bread going into the day. None. And all of the people who knew how to bake were asleep.

I canceled my meeting in NYC, turned around, and headed to the HUB. There I faced a bunch of equipment I’d never used. I didn’t have a recipe. I didn’t know how to use the equipment. I didn’t have a team. Jermyn, who was running the Kitchen production that day lent me two of his staff. I called in a few other folks. And we started figuring out how to bake.

We got bread out to all of the locations in time for lunch service. Sort of a miracle. But that first day was pretty back breaking. I think I was at it for 14+ hours. And baking is muscle work, something I hadn’t appreciated. Our pita were OK but not great. By the end of the week they were something special. We’ve been tweaking the process since and our cost is coming in line with expectations, the bread is better and better, and we’re starting to develop stable systems and processes that will support some of the ideas we have for the future. And nobody is running out of bread.

You can come by the HUB to see us baking daily. We start around 2pm and finish up between 8pm and 11pm depending on how many batches we bake.

And if you have baking experience and want to be a part of helping Massachusetts grow grain, and making the best pita in the country, please let us know. We have 2 more lead baking positions we’re looking to fill.


Clover logo gets a new venue


The flesh of a pumpkin! I was thinking about ways to promote tomorrow’s beer launch with Jack’s Abby. We’re doing pumpkin carving and drinking a new pumpkin beer made with local pumpkins. Ayr suggested I carve our logo into a pumpkin. So on Friday night I watched an episode of Fargo and did this with the help of an oyster knife, a bunch of thumbtacks, and a lot of Windows 95-era pumpkin carving websites. Look out for a poster based on this image at Clover locations soon.


Nixtamalization in Massachusetts? Taste it today at food dev.

IMG_6475 copy

I’m playing with a form of northern grits called sampe. Kim Vanwormer, miller at Plimoth Grist Mill, a working grist mill, left us some samples a couple of months ago. I got around to cooking some up last month and was stunned. I’d never had grits or polenta like this. The corn was pretty course, so after a ton of cooking it still had a nice texture. It gets smooth and creamy but with distinct pieces of corn that have a bit of bite.

I WANT TO TASTE SAMPE: Sign up for Food Dev today (free, open to all)

So now I’m playing with this to see if it could work at Clover. It might be an operational nightmare. It requires soaking and long slow cooking. But I’m going to see if I could find a way to work with it. Kim is trying to get farmers in Massachusetts to grow heirloom corn and I’d love to support that. It’s a really special product that I’d love to bring attention to and share. And I think it could help broaden our breakfast menu. It’s delicious sweet (cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and brown sugar or fruit and honey) and it’s beautiful savory (think cheese, soft cooked egg, and pepper).

There are a full 3 written works from the 1600s mentioning Sampe. Amazing, right? When you think about how littered our world is with recordings of selfies, etc. An entire society, Native Americans in the Northeast, figured out how to use corn as a staple of their diet, and we have a total of 3 European written observations to rely on.

So I’m puzzled, because it appears from these writings that Sampe (which may come from a Wampanoag word that may have meant something like “to soak”) may have originally been corn processed by nixtamalization, a process where corn is soaked (boiled) in Alkaline water to make it more digestible and nutritious. Specifically, this process creates a vitamin we call B3 (Niacin) which is really important for nutrition. Nixtamazliation is THE technology that was responsible for the development of societies in the mesoamericas.

But the Sampe I have from Plimoth is not treated. So I’ve been looking into it, and while I haven’t really found an answer, I have discovered that nixtamalization was definitely known and used in the Northeast United States. That’s amazing! I never knew that. Think Hominey, think Masa. Well native cultures here in New England used the same stuff! They used ash from burning wood. I wonder why that food is absent from our diet? In the South there is a little, at least they know the word Hominy. And down in Mexico, central, and South America there is a ton (masa and derivatives).

Any food historians out there that know more about this?


You can spit the coffee out if you want to sleep on Tuesday night


Every Tuesday at 3pm we have an open food development meeting. We taste new food, new beer, and new coffee for the Clover menu. Some weeks are more caffeinated than others. Here we were tasting a bunch of new coffees from Speedwell, Barismo, Barrington, Parlor, and Spyhouse (a favorite of Ayr’s from his cross-country trip this summer).

If you’d like to join Food Dev, sign up on the lefthand side of the website.


Just HFI….just HFI is open 24 hours a day


This is my newest poster to get the word out about our midnight coffee and donuts event at CloverHFI on October 14. You can sign up by clicking on this button.

Eventbrite - Midnight Coffee and Donuts at CloverHFI

We’ve never done an event at the stroke of midnight. And I wanted to show that HFI glowed in the dark. So I stood on Mass Ave on a Friday night with the 5D. Then we converted the photo to black and white, then added back the color to our restaurant only. Ayr showed me a cool thing you can do in Illustrator called Gaussian Blur, which created this cool neon effect.

Apparently the neon is too realistic! Lynn who runs CloverHSQ told me she’s having trouble getting customers to leave her restaurant at midnight because the poster is on the window there, and it says “Open 24 hours!”

As of now HFI is our only 24-hour restaurant. So if you’re trying to continue your Clover night, head to 496 Mass Ave in Central Square!


Clover electrified


This cord is going to mean fresher food for you.

Any food that can’t be prepped with a knife or a blender gets made back at the HUB. We make the food, pack it, then store it in our walk-in fridge until the resupply van is ready to head out to our locations. Ayr and Chris were thinking of ways to cut down the time between when food is prepped and when it is eaten.

Soon we’re going to be plugging in our resupply van at night, fully packed with food. This means it is forever a refrigerator. And it means we can push prep to later in the day, pack it directly into the truck, and skip the walk-in fridge altogether. We’re using something called FreshTemp, which means we can monitor the temperature of the van from anywhere.