HSQ2 and another surprise


CloverHSQ is going to close.

I’ve known that since April 2015 and haven’t been able to tell folks. I’m sorry. I was sworn to secrecy. It’s been scary, and sad, and scary.

But with death comes life. We’re going to be opening what we’re referring to as “HSQ2.” And it’s very very close to the current location. We’ll be at 1326 Massachusetts Avenue (Holyoke and Mass Ave.). So That’s the corner of Holyoke and Mass Ave. Yeah, about 60 feet from the current restaurant.

In some ways it’s a better location than what we have now. It’s a corner (which is awesome). It’s on Mass Ave. (which is awesome). In other ways we’re going to be really sad to leave the current space. 7 Holyoke was our very first restaurant and we’ve all put a lot of ourselves into that space. So it’s sad to leave behind.

The new space is smaller (about 1500 sq ft vs. 2200 sq ft) and obviously has no mezzanine. But we think you’re going to love what we’re doing with it.

And now time for the other surprise. Our contractor, Justin, started shooting me pictures during demo of stuff they were uncovering. And I can’t tell you how special this is. With any other contractor demo would last 48 hours and we would never have heard anything. Anything there would have been destroyed. But Justin cares a ton about what he does, and about history, and buildings. It’s why we love working with him.

So Justin discovered all of this crazy tile work. And more. And more. There are pennants around the top of the space. And crimson Hs everywhere. We did some research and discovered they date back to 1913. This space was the Waldorf Lunch.

OK, if you haven’t studied Cambridge history that might not mean anything to you. But I’ve read a bunch of books these past few years to better understand where I live and work. And I’ve read many accounts that refer to the Waldorf Lunch. It was an icon.

And after the Waldorf Lunch came the Bickford, precursor to the chain. And “the Bick” was almost as big a deal as the Waldorf. They operated around the clock. Cambridge was most bustling back then, and more blue collar with factories and stuff. And these were places where students, teachers, and workers crossed paths.

No only are we moving into the old Waldorf Lunch, but we might be able to restore this crazy tile work. There’s nothing else like this. It’s amazing. We’ll share more as we clean up the tile etc. But this is like archeology in the city. It’s amazing.

I’m going to try to figure out how to do a Kickstarter to fund restoration. If anybody out there has killer kickstarter video skills and wants to help reach out to me. We’d really love to find a way to save this history.


Pardina Lentil Soup


If you’ve ever ordered anything with a legume in it at our Harvard Square restaurant, I’ve probably told you all about Timeless Seeds, a group of farmers in Montana who supply our lentils and chickpeas. We used to go through one pallet of chickpeas every 6 weeks, now it’s one pallet every week.

My current favorite Timeless-inspired recipe is Chris’ Pardina Lentil Soup. This soup is really simple; celery, onion, and carrot, plus tomato and lots of fresh rosemary. The heirloom Pardina lentils hold up well in the broth. (If you want to make our veggie stock at home, Lucia posted the recipe on Instagram a few months ago).

Next time you see Pardina lentils on the menu, ask for a sample! Pardina Lentil Soup is in regular rotation at all restaurants.


My favorite days are rainy

When I was running trucks I was always happiest when it was pouring. Nothing felt better than seeing how much folks cared about the food we were serving.  Nothing tests commitment like standing in line in the pouring cold rain. 

And here we are day 3 at DTX and our first real snow. Schools are closed.

And we have a line. Well, they’re not standing in the cold rain, but it still feels awesome. 


Fresh paint, brown butter, and bright lights


Day 2 here at CloverDTX.

I walked in this morning at 6:10am. Jasper and team were already well into the pre-open routine. They are moving quickly, laughing here and there. There is still a light smell of new paint. Not offensive, sort of nice. And the popovers are just going in the oven, you melt the butter just to the edge of brown before you put the batter in the oven.

And you know, this job is so different than anything I did before. I did other kinds of work. Labs, conference rooms, then surfing and computers, then airplanes and basement offices on folding chairs, and board rooms on high floors with big glass windows, and late nights alone in a bad hotel bar in a strange city.

My other jobs didn’t smell like this.

There is so much I love about what we do. And it’s not just the mission of our company. I think we’re going to make serious measurable change in the world. But it’s not just that. I love the details of what we do. The people I get to work with, the people I get to serve, the smell of our food. I love the challenges, the hustle, the constant drive to improve. I feel so lucky to have this work.


DTX is alive. And it feels like home.


Wow all. This has been an amazing 72 hours or so. We’ve learned a lot from our past store opens and I think we’re improving a bit. We started out with a casual open house Monday morning that drew more than 400 people. We were stunned. Then our Pay What you Want soft opening yesterday helped raise nearly 4x what we were anticipating. That money goes to The Food Project and will allow 3 city kids to spend the summer on a farm.

And today was the big event. We opened at 7am and are closing in 2 hours at 11pm. You’ve all been generous and welcoming and curious. Feedback has been honest and fresh. I couldn’t ask for more.

A few things broke (a coffee grinder caught on fire). But for the most part things are running silky smooth. I’ll be there pouring coffee for the next few days to get everything off the ground.

I’ve had 3 customers who were at Harvard Square on our first day back in 2010. There have been customers who remember taking orders from me at the MIT truck back in the day. A couple who had us cater their wedding brought their kiddo by. It feels like home. Thanks all!


Wages and prices phase 2


(My lunch, Blue Oyster Mushroom Sandwich and loose leaf Oolong tea cost $10.27 today, after Saturday 1/20/2016 it will cost $10.97.)

I’ve done the analysis (see yesterday’s post). And it looks as though we had no measurable drop in transactions after the most recent price change. That means you all kept coming. Awesome. If anything it looks like we’re seeing transactions growing vs. previous years (we were up considerably year over year for the recent months). So that’s great news.

We’re going to change prices again on Saturday (1/30/2016).


In part because expenses grow one year to the next. In part because we want to pay our employees more.

Yeah, but why on earth are you talking about this?

It’s true, most in our industry make price changes as silently as possible hoping nobody notices. We’re not doing that. Most importantly because we believe we all benefit from engaging in a conversation about wages and prices. Things have to change. We have to find a way to pay more and I don’t know any other way to go about that. And we think our higher wages are going to lead to better food and a better experience for our customers.

We’re hoping you appreciate this (and a little scared some of you will be mad about the price change!). In any case, we encourage you to join the conversation. Talk to us!

What changes?

Drinks that are currently $2.10 will become $2.33 (Our organic black iced tea, our house-made sodas)

Sandwiches which are currently $6.77 will become $7.47

Platters which are currently $7.71 will become $8.18

French fries which are currently $3.50 will become $3.74

All other menu items will stay where they are.

Wage changes?

Our most recent pay period showed average hourly wage of $10.95/ hour company-wide (does not include salaried employees). This is a significant increase since we made the last price change. You might remember that we were at an average wage rate of $10.60/ hour at that time. Starting Saturday our employee wage rates will change. We will not have a single employee earning less than $11/ hour.

This time we’re making he following changes to wages:

Provisional employees are currently $10.00/ hr will paid $11.00/ hr

Team Members are currently $10.25/ hr will be paid $11.25-12.25/ hr

Team Leaders are currently $12.75/ hr will be paid $13.50-14.50/ hr

Order Takers were recently changed to $12.00/ hr, and Order Taker Leads were changed to $15.00. Those changes, which just happened, will remain the same.

Overall we’re expecting 70% of our price increase to end up in our employees bank accounts. The remainder will help us pay for increasing insurance costs, food costs, and other non-salary expenses that allow us to run Clover.


I’m procrastinating right now…


So you don’t get a post from me in a long long time. Then the first one I put up is to avoid doing something else! Sorry all. I think there are a lot of parts of my job I’m not doing very well right now. I don’t know if the fact that I’m putting everything I have into this softens those failures or makes them sting more. Maybe I’ll write more on that later. But for now I’m just avoiding some work. You know that feeling?

So that’s my computer, perched just below the “You are the lab: If we pay more, will you pay more?” sticker in the window. I’m plugging away on a spreadsheet analyzing sales and transactions over recent months, and projecting future impact of price increases and pay increases. And it’s not this work that I’m avoiding. I really like numbers. I’m one of those folks that feels comfort and refuge in the world of equations and calculations.

I’m avoiding the decisions that I’m going to have to make as soon as I finish that analysis. Because we’re at step 2 in our long-term effort to drive our wages to a whole new level. For those not following this I announced this move back in October at an all company meeting, then after some internal discussion opened the conversation up to everybody with some blog posts: How much should employees earn 1 and part 2, Pay and prices.

The idea is that I think low wages are bad for us all. They create instability and are not consistent with sustainable food. So we’re engaging all stakeholders (customers, employees, investors) in tough conversations about pay. I want to pay a lot more. Like $20/ hour. The only way we’re going to get there is by increasing prices.

So that’s the scary part. The last thing I want to do is make Clover less attractive for anybody. We want everybody to eat at Clover! So increasing prices is not much fun. But I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do.

OK, back to that analysis. New prices coming soon. I’ll post details on changes (and pay increases) as soon as I get this work done…