November 17, 2009


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

June 7, 2023
For those of you who know, you are probably already clicking into this post to see exactly when you will need to get to Clover. For those who are new to Clover, the Nashville Hot Mushroom is a big deal. It’s an homage to the hot chicken at Prince’s in Nashville, which has its own dramatic origin story. Our version gives you a LITTLE relief from the spice with…
June 7, 2023
Joe (SCL, customer service rep, and our resident coffee fiend) just messaged me that the new Little Wolf coffee was blowing his mind. So I figured I would let all of you know too so you can try it! The coffee is called Laayoo – it’s named after a tree indigenous to the region of Ethiopia where it’s grown by smallholder farmers. Joe tasted notes of Earl Gray tea and funky/smoky/pu-erh tea. Little Wolf folks said it reminded them of rosè wine. So that makes me curious – what do you taste?
May 24, 2023
I recently learned that garlic has 4 stages that it goes through on its journey to become the cured stuff you’re probably used to seeing. This year I learned about Green Garlic. It’s the mild, sweet, un-cured bulb, plus the fresh green shoots. We got our hands on a super limited crop from Red Fire out in Granby, and so we decided to see if we could incorporate it into every single different type of box we make next week…
May 23, 2023
We’ve intentionally steered clear of bowls for a long time. If you see Ayr tomorrow, ask him why : ) Tomorrow (5/24) we’re starting a 2-week test of bowls at CloverNTV, our restaurant in Newtonville. If it goes well, this could represent the beginning of one of the bigger changes our menu has EVER seen. We’re hoping we’ve cracked the code to bowls that are seasonal, carefully-composed, easy to carry, and craveable – all the things we love about bowls, and none of the things we don’t.
May 18, 2023
I used to eat Cheesy Grits almost every morning, and if you were eating with us around 2017, I bet you did too. We took our Plimoth-ground-grits off the menu for a little while, but now they’re back at all locations (except for the HUB for the time being). Stop in for breakfast during the next 2 weeks – we’re aiming for these to be hot and ready at 8am and we’ll be selling them til they’re out. The staff has been waking up extra early and adding a lot of extra whisking to their mornings, so we’d love to hear what you think. If you’ve never had our Cheesy Grits before, here are some things you should know….
May 16, 2023
What is Chris eating? When we toured the field at Siena, the crew was planting dahlia tubers. They get planted in warm soil, will grow all summer and will be ready for harvest in the fall. They reminded us of sunchokes, so we got to talking about whether the tubers are edible and it turns out they are! Are they delicious?
May 15, 2023
Do you want a beautiful box of produce for a fraction of what you’d pay in the grocery store? Do you want to invest in a farm’s success and be with them throughout the harvest season? Do you think you hate eggplants but you’ve just never had a good one? It might be time to look into a CSA (or farmshare).
May 5, 2023
I remember exactly the moment we started celebrating May the 4th (“May the Force” be with you). We were on a planning call about meal boxes and we were talking about how we were going to launch our Taco Tuesday program on Cinco de Mayo (May the 5th). Chris accidentally said “May the 4th” and Ayr said, “May the 4th! We should do a Star Wars Box!”
April 24, 2023
If you’ve been reading for a while you probably know we hate waste. Most of the time, minimizing waste is pretty unglamorous, but every once in a while our mission to reduce waste takes us to some very cool places. I look after Clover’s grocery marketplaces (including our Assembly Row grocery store). A few months ago I noticed that the marketplaces were going through a lot of our paper bags. They’re compostable, which is great. But I think the best bag is one you can use over and over again.
April 22, 2023
Few people know that Clover is environmental activism. This is by design.  And it works. We do these customer surveys and see that 9 out of 10 Clover customers are NOT vegetarian. Yet I’m constantly troubled by conflicting feelings about the approach we’ve taken.
April 10, 2023
Over the next 3 weeks, on a rolling schedule, most Clovers are going to be giving out a free hot or cold George Howell Montecarlos coffee to anyone who stops in between opening and 11 am. No strings— we just want to see you all and talk about coffee!! George Howell’s Montecarlos is a single-origin coffee we love for our pour-overs…
March 30, 2023
Each year, early spring is a busy time at the Clover kitchen because we have 2 of our tastiest boxes, usually back-to-back. For the Passover box, a lot of care goes into the kashering of the kitchen, with Rabbi Dolinger coming in to ensure the box is totally Kosher for Passover via Lighthouse Kosher.