May 24, 2017

CloverHSC (Harvard Science Center)

A new Clover. Technically this is number 11. And it’s exhilarating. I stepped back after ordering the first coffee (I was the first customer).

Lynn (who has been the General Manager of our restaurant in Harvard Square for a few years now) is running the show and her team is amazing.

Harvard is renovating the Science Center. The first stage is done and includes the library, the outdoor area, and the cafeteria. Clover replaced the cafeteria that was here. We’re operating a coffee bar as well as a restaurant over here. It’s beautiful. It’s going to be really busy.

We’re using the opportunity to test some ideas. The coffee program is an evolved version of what we’ve been doing at the restaurants. We’re introducing Cafe Au Lait. I’ll write more about that. I’ve been thinking for a while that Cafe Au Lait and Con Leche are sort of overlooked in our Latte-dominated coffee culture. It’s really fun. And we’re doing house-made syrups that we’re pairing with the coffees. It’s a new direction for us. We’re still focused on the delicate black cup of coffee, but we’re hoping some of these innovations will help bring more people to that black cup.

Another big test: employee pay. We’re required here, by Harvard, to pay at rates matching the internal Harvard pay rates. Our financial agreement with Harvard allows for this. So we’ll be paying hourly employees working at this location really high rates. We’ve been working hard to get to the $20/ hr average pay rate company-wide, but we’re a ways off from that. Meanwhile, this location will have starting pay higher than that rate.

We’re all concerned this will make Clover employees feel frustrated. I hope that’s not what happens. We can’t afford to pay these rates company-wide, as much as I’d love to. We just wouldn’t make any money. Unless our other landlords make very different agreements with us. I’m not psyched about the tension this could create. On the other hand, it allows us a live test to see how high pay rates impact performance, retention, employee happiness, etc.

I asked my managers the other day if the 30% increase in pay (vs. a year ago) has had any positive impact on performance. I asked whether hustle was better, or whether employees were happier or more engaged, or fewer call outs, etc. They all answered the same way: no impact. I need a bit more time before I can judge turnover. But anecdotally at least we haven’t seen the return from this investment that we’d like to be seeing.

Recent Posts

November 29, 2023
I’m writing to share some news: we’ve decided to permanently close CloverROW, our outpost in the Assembly Row neighborhood of Somerville. The closure of this restaurant is part of the whole company’s focus on reaching financial sustainability and positioning us for future growth. These decisions are really hard, but they’re necessary steps for us to simplify Clover. And, happily, all the amazing staff at CloverROW, including the manager Joe, will be able to move into other Clover restaurants. The math is straightforward…
November 28, 2023
These sweet potato latkes date back to early days on the Clover food truck. They’re so yummy and the sweet potatoes lend them such a fun golden color. They’re probably the most popular item in our Hanukkah Meal Box, which you can get delivered on December 7th. Inside the box you’ll find: 
November 21, 2023
Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. We will be closed Thursday 11/23 at all locations. For our kitchen team, it will be a good chance to rest after prepping a ton of Brussels casseroles for our Thanksgiving Box : ) As for the days surrounding Thanksgiving, we’ll be open normal hours, except for CloverFIN (Financial District) and CloverHSC (Harvard Science Center) which will be closed tomorrow and Friday. CloverHSQ (Harvard Square) will be closing early (at 8pm) tomorrow. 
November 16, 2023
I’m not a big believer in multitasking (which, in my experience, is doing a bunch of things simultaneously and badly.) But there’s a lot going on at Clover right now, so I had to break my No Multitasking Rule on Wednesday. I asked Michele and Greg on our Finance team if they’d mind if I took myself off video during a meeting to review Accounts Payable. “I have to draw a cartoon Delicata Squash,” I explained, reasonably.
November 16, 2023
Some of you have been asking for a sides-only box – and it’s true, sides are the best part, aren’t they? We’re making a limited number of boxes with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and King Brussels’ Casserole. Each Sides Box serves 6-8 people and can be delivered to your door for 11/21 or 11/22. 
November 9, 2023
The moment you’ve waited for is here. Western Mass Brussels sprouts are back in the restaurants, which means the King himself has landed! What’s on this glorious sandwich and why is it the King of all seasonal sandwiches? A dijon-mayo spread, smoked Grafton cheddar, fried Brussels tossed with za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend), pickled red cabbage, and toasted hazelnuts.
November 6, 2023
On Friday we had a company meeting with all our leadership to talk about a decision we’ve made about the future of Clover. We are all focused on putting Clover on solid financial footing so we can continue to make the food you love for many years to come. COVID changed everything for restaurants like us. The way we eat, drink, work, and get together has shifted substantially and, while Clover has seen a steady recovery in sales…
October 29, 2023
Julia here. Today, October 29, is Clover’s birthday! 15 years of perfect pita, crispy chickpea fritters, countless sandwiches that cycle with the seasons, and of course the occasional birthday cupcake. How lucky are we? Although I’ve been working at Clover for a year and a half, this was my first week as CEO. I’m excited and honored to be stepping into this role. I’ve been a Clover enthusiast for a long time – since my first taste of a Blue Oyster Mushroom sandwich as a grad student in 2013. As COO and now as CEO…
October 26, 2023
If you stop by tomorrow (Friday 10/27) around 11am, you might be treated to a bit of Clover history in the form of a carrot cupcake with buttercream frosting. One per paying customer, while they last! And they may not last long : )
October 26, 2023
A bunch of you have been asking, and yes, we are doing a Thanksgiving Box menu again this year, with all the favorites from years past – Hubbard Squash glazed with maple-Sriracha butter, mashed potatoes, gravy, Ayr’s dad’s walnut-mushroom patè, stuffing – there’s even a limited run of Petsi pies. Free delivery to your door if you’re within 30 miles of us. Click here to reserve yours.
October 22, 2023
I’ve recently asked somebody who believes in Clover as much as I do to step into the CEO role. Julia Wrin Piper has been Clover’s COO for the past 18 months and will take over running the company day-to-day. I’ll be shifting my efforts to provide support for Julia and the team, work on growth opportunities, and pursue partnerships that will amplify Clover’s mission. I’ll remain a member of the Board of Directors and active as an advisor and mentor. Clover is facing a potent mix of opportunity and challenge right now and I know Julia is exactly the right person to lead the team through these twists and turns.
October 18, 2023
On 10/29 Clover will turn 15 years old. It’s been 15 years since we first pulled up a tiny white food truck to the MIT campus in hopes of testing a menu that could make a dent in global warming. Since then we’ve supported so many local farmers; had tons of adventures on board trucks and restaurants; and met tons of wonderful customers. And most of all we’ve made food. Lots and lots of food. In honor of our 15th birthday, we sent out a survey asking you about your favorite LONG-LOST MENU ITEMS. We’ve picked the top results and we’re going to bring them back for one day only – in the form of a Birthday Meal Box!