August 16, 2010

That sandwich is delicious, and you’re not going to get to eat it


Friday when I got back from vacation Enzo, all expectation and excitement, showed me this picture on his iPhone. I told him “not going to happen.” And after that felt like I’d kicked a puppy.

I can be a jerk sometimes. And part of it was that, I just didn’t deliver the message well. But there is a more substantial challenge. Rolando and I have to figure out how to source these great ideas and energy from our employees, while making sure the output is in line with our vision for Clover. It’s a tricky thing to do, and I really screwed it up Friday (sorry Enzo).

(more after break)
I’ve been talking to Rolando about how we’re going to achieve this, and our best idea is a combination of clear boundaries, better education, and less of me being a jerk.

So what was wrong with this sandwich? Looks awesome, doesn’t it. I have no doubt it was. I love Enzo’s food. This one was heirloom tomato, farmer’s cheese, and swiss chard, basil, and a bit of dressing in there. We do seasonal sandwiches every 3 weeks or so, and this time tomatoes are up.

So why aren’t you eating it? The big answer is simplicity. We want our food to focus on the seasonal ingredient. Last month it was fresh basil. Right now it’s the tomato. Chard is competing for attention. And the risk is that this is a sandwich you eat without knowing how we made it taste so good. I want the tomato sandwich to rock because the tomato is perfect and we seasoned it perfectly. And please don’t call it gourmet. We try hard to make sure our products are simple and pronounceable. Sometimes we stray, but simplicity and accessibility are always on our minds.

The other reason is because it’s really important for us to cross-utilize ingredients. This keeps things simple, allows us to focus our money and time on quality products (like the tomato) and still sell them at accessible prices.

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