November 17, 2009

Yelpy

I get these Yelp updates. I told them I didn’t want to pay them anything, I told them I didn’t want any updates, but I still get them. And like most of my spam, it’s sort of my fault because I’ve been lazy and haven’t tracked down the little off switch.

This was in my inbox this morning from Yelp. Thought I’d take a second to talk about our evolving relationship with reviews, and social media, etc.:

Inc Magazine presented an interesting idea last week: Business owners are more engaged on consumer sites than consumers themselves. According to the article, “87 percent [of business owners] had written comments on review sites, while only 63 percent of consumers had done so. The small-business owners also held review sites in higher esteem: 57 percent said they found them useful in making purchasing decisions, compared to 41 percent of consumers.”

I think this quote is funny. As some of you know, I have a bit of a rocky relationship with Yelp. Not much better with print media. And nothing with Facebook. These are the cornerstones for most new businesses, especially restaurants. So what’s my problem?

I’ll admit, some of it has to be some sort of strange deep stubbornness that I’d need a head shrinker to identify. But I can justify it with some straightforward criticism, and I thought all of you may enjoy a peek behind the curtain of how companies are manipulating, oops, I mean communicating to you.

I don’t like the sound of my own voice

I’ve always suspected that most of these networks are really driven by a small handful of folks. And a good number of those folks are talking to themselves. This little study sort of confirms that, though it’s less dramatic than I expected.

When we first opened Yelp contacted me, first by email, then by phone. They wanted me to pay them monthly, a lot of chickpea sandwiches, so that they would put me higher in their search results, etc. I said no thanks, based purely on money. But it bothered me beyond just the money. I think there is a little slight of hand there. You assume, or at least I do, that when you use these sites, with the emphasis on user reviews, the information is untarnished.

Then Yelp invited me to “Taste of Kendall Square.” I can only imagine they are holding these things everywhere. The deal: I bring food for 200 people, they bring 200 hyper-Yelpers, and Clover gets written about, by more Yelpers. I said no again, because of the money. But at this point I realize I also just don’t want that much Yelp attention.

Twitter (and someday facebook?)

On the other hand, I love the way Twitter has worked for us. It’s just a really handy tool. Never thought I would sing the praises of Twitter, I was a bit of a critic early on. But the truth is, it’s a clean fast way for me to get information out to everyone. And recently I’m finding it’s becoming a great tool for us to collect feedback. There is no pretension, no slight of hand. What you see is what you get on Twitter. I like that.

We have some Google customers. They have some new tool called Google Friend Connect. I think we’ll play around with it. Like all of these, I’ll start out skeptical, but keep an open mind.

Recent Posts

May 14, 2024
About a year and a half ago, at an open-to-the-public food development meeting at Clover, we blind taste-tested a new plant-based pulled pork. This wasn’t a totally new thing for us to do—as a company with a climate mission, we tend to get a lot of samples of plant-based everything, and we love trying all of them. We’ve tried mycelium-based mushroom meats, wheat-and-soy nuggets, and burgers made from kelp. One bite in, and it was clear this pulled pork was special.
May 8, 2024
Squeaky paneer, mint cilantro chutney, chaat, and our first-ever collab with a local chef. Remember when Pushpir came into the kitchen and schooled us on Northern Indian food? That was 2013. A different CloverHSQ than the one you visit today (back then we were at 7 Holyoke St, across the street from where Kevin and his team now serve you). I still remember the smell of the cilantro, mint, jalapeños, and orange juice Pushpir was blending in the Vitamix. We hadn’t smelled that exact combo before…
April 16, 2024
This week has been a flurry of preparations as we kick off the 2024 food truck season. We did an event at Tufts over the weekend, in a few days we’ll be selling breakfast and lunch at a conference at the Media Lab at MIT, and this weekend we’ll be pulling up to a private party with sandwiches and appetizers.
March 27, 2024
Every year, just after Valentine’s Day, we start getting the same question in from customers: Will there be a Passover Box this year? Sometimes the pleas are more direct, sometimes more colorful. The glories of the vegetarian Chopped Liver are a common theme. This year, Sarah, an NYC-based friend of mine said she’s spent so much time thinking about the emails describing last year’s box that she’s DRIVING UP TO BOSTON to claim one!
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!