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

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!