April 13, 2015

Illegal pinball

IMG_4414

The other day I posted about all of the things going on for Clover. A really long post.

Towards the end of that post was a mention of a pinball. Not less than 3 hours after I put that post on the website I got an email from Cambridge Licensing letting me know that due to an ordinance in Cambridge we might not be allowed to have pinball.

So crazy right? Crazy there’s an issue. And crazy they are reading this website to find that. We’re chasing around city agencies right now to get to the bottom of this. So far we’ve been told by zoning that it’s not their job, told by the head of City Inspectional Services that there’s no issue, told by licensing that they need us to get an entertainment license. So we’ve applied for an entertainment license.

I’d love to sit down with a City official and go through how absolutely crazy it’s been to try to work in this City. I’m reaching a boiling point. Feels like anything you want to do there’s an absurd obstacle put in your place.

We had a Cambridge Fire Sargent come into the HUB the other day harassing Chris about a bill that a plumber we work with hadn’t paid them, $500 or so. Chris asked if it was our bill and they said no, but they know we work with that plumber. They threatened to shut down the HUB and prevent HFI from opening if we get the plumber to pay up. No joke. No joke. In 2015. In an educated city.

We can’t apply for a beer license for HFI because the previous tenant has what Massachusetts calls a pocket license. That’s a license that’s not active (because he has no business anymore) but is “attached” to our address. Cambridge will not allow us to apply for a license until that pocket license is moved or revoked. The Cambridge ordinances say very clearly that pocket licenses should not be renewed, yet the License Commission renewed his license at the end of the year. He didn’t file for an extension of his license, but the Cambridge License Commission extended it anyway. And here we are, 1 year after we signed a LOI on the space, still unable to apply for a permit. It’s really incredible.

It’s taken a year, literally a year, to get our pita oven approved for use in Cambridge. If I’d opened it in New Hampshire I could have had bread baking last May. And I’m spending more money on consultants, engineers, etc. than the oven cost to be built in Israel and shipped across the ocean.

These are some larger stories, but there are dozens of smaller stories. And they’re hardly unique to Clover. It’s just an amazing pain to try to do business. These things seem broken. They just don’t seem to work they way they should. I would be shocked if there is somebody who lives in Cambridge who thinks it would be a bad thing for Clover to have a pinball machine in our restaurant. And I think most business people in the City feel there is nothing they can do. I feel that same way.

(Oh, and we will have pinball, legal or not. And yeah, that’s a cherry Twilight Zone machine there. I’ve been doing a lot of pinball research : )

Recent Posts

February 15, 2024
We have a new sandwich out everywhere today. It’s a take on a Buffalo Chicken sandwich. We use celery root, aka celeriac, this nobbly, gnarled joy of a winter vegetable. We cut it into planks, batter it with panko, and fry it. We’re getting ours from Norwich Meadows Farm, a farm in NY state that’s known for creating really flavorful organic veggies using a cool irrigation system. 
February 7, 2024
For the week of Valentine’s Day, we’ll be delivering these Making Whoopie (Pie) Kits 😉. They have everything you need to make whoopie pies — more specifically, Chris’ favorite oatmeal cakes with beet buttercream frosting. You’ll also get a scoop for making the perfect size pie, and a roll of sugar cookie dough for more sweet fun.
January 18, 2024
Pull out your plaid and cue up the bagpipes because it’s Clover’s third-ever celebration of Burns Night, an introduction to Scottish food/drink/music/poetry and a reason to raise a glass during this dark and cold month! You may be asking yourself, what is Burns Night?
January 17, 2024
Chances are you’ve tried the new Clover Bowls. We’ve been running them since the Spring. After a few tweaks, we landed on a roster we love: the Mediterranean Bowl, the Verde Rice and Bean Bowl, and a Rotating Seasonal Bowl. The bowls have transformed our menu – Josh, a Kendall customer, recently wrote to us, “The beet poke bowl is the best new item I’ve tried at Clover in years. I love the freshness and bite of the mix of flavors.” We’ve also heard some very good suggestions about how to make them even better…
January 3, 2024
Meet the Veggie Monster Meal Box! Some of you are subscribers to our Friday newsletter about plant-based cooking. Now… that newsletter has spawned a meal box! Pack your fridge with everything you need to make an entire week of vegetable-based meals. Think hearty pot pies; sweet and spicy maple-roasted squash tacos; bowls packed with…
December 20, 2023
New Year’s Eve is no time to be buried in the kitchen, so we pack our NYE Box with Clover fan favorites that come together fast and encourage a night of Finger-Food Feasting. Can you think of anything better than digging into bubbling hot Brussels Sprout Cheese dip on a freezing cold Boston night? Or scooping up our bright nutty Romesco sauce as the clock ticks to midnight?  And our breakthrough Carrot Lox (probably the best thing to come out of our food dev in 2023) will have you resolving to spare more salmon in the year ahead.
December 19, 2023
Stop by Clover today (Tuesday 12/19) and when you order a Brussels Sandwich on the app, we’ll give you $1 off our new chocolate chip cookie! It’s a gift from King Brussels, on his final day in the Clover Kingdom. Use this link to get yours!
December 16, 2023
Are you looking for the perfect gift for a friend who loves Clover? We have online gift cards! You can specify a time that you’d like the card to hit their inbox – and there’s a new feature that lets multiple people pool money to send a card to one person. Pretty cool!  
December 10, 2023
What would we serve if we had all of you over for Christmas dinner? This (epic) box, available only for Christmas, is an homage to the holiday traditions of our Clover staff. And like all Clover boxes, it supports our hardworking Massachusetts farmers, millers, bakers, and cheesemakers. This box is designed to feed you and keep you properly festive throughout a week with different meals/snacks, and can also be laid out all together on a holiday table as one big feast.
December 4, 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 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 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.