Clover Announces First Brick-and-Mortar in Boston Proper
Clover Food Lab has taken over a Boston burrito shop and could start slinging its seasonal, vegetarian fare in Downtown Crossing by the end of this year.
Company founder and CEO Ayr Muir reported in a blog post yesterday that Clover has moved into a recently-shuttered location of Boloco. After Eater Boston initially shared the news, BostInno noted the School Street location is one of a couple “redundant” stores past-and-present Boloco CEO John Pepper shuttered when he regained ownership of the company earlier this year.
Yesterday was Clover’s first day inside their new home. The guts of the space don’t need too much work; Muir said in a video tour of the site that electrical, plumbing, and flooring would stay in place, but a few walls will be knocked down to open up (and shrink) the kitchen and expand the dining area, and of course, the walk-in freezer will be removed. His team, which has opened restaurants in Harvard, Kendall, and Central squares, East Cambridge, Brookline Village, and Burlington since it launched in food truck form in 2008, “[builds] very fast.” Demolition will start on Wednesday, Muir said.
Clover bought a beer and wine license for the Downtown Crossing restaurant, but Muir told Boston it’s possible the booze won’t flow right when it opens, depending on the state’s approval process. The restaurant’s opening menu items are also to be determined, based on when CloverDTX opens. “We’ll be playing around with a bunch of stuff. Everything is seasonal, so I won’t know exactly what we’ll serve until I know the launch date,” he said.
When it does start serving, note that Clover’s sandwiches will no longer cost a round $7. On Saturday, the company rolled out a price increase of about 25 cents on sandwiches, platters, kids’ items, and French fries. It’s likely just the first round of price hikes: Muir is working to increase his staff’s wages from an average of $10.60 per hour to $20 per hour, he has shared on the company blog. Saturday’s increase represents a 25-cent raise for hourly employees, he said.
“If you all keep coming these changes will allow us to make meaningful increases to employee pay,” Muir wrote. “We’ll watch transactions carefully and 4 weeks in or so I’ll share with you the results. Assuming we don’t see a fall-off we’ll move forward with the next round of incremental increases. I’d like to continue on this path because I think paying employees more will make a better Clover which will benefit us all.”
With news about Clover taking the first step toward opening its first brick-and-mortar in Boston proper, you may wonder what’s happening with the plug-in truck concept the company appeared ready to debut on Newbury Street over the summer. “I’m due for an update on that,” Muir said. (In a November 1 blog post, Muir outlined the regulatory reasons his company was forced to dig up an existing concrete pad and repave to make it street-level.)
“We finally got the concrete slab poured, four years in. It’s moving along. We still think it’s couple months off,” he said today.
Clover brought on Mike Fitzhenry, founder of Mike & Patty’s in Bay Village (he sold it in 2013) and former chef at Hungry Mother and Formaggio Kitchen, to run the CloverNEW truck, so in the meantime, he’s been working on the company’s food trucks. Tomorrow, Fitzhenry begins a late-night residency at CloverHFI, the 24-hour location in Central Square, according to Muir. “He will be doing a lot of experimentation with the light-night fare.”
CloverDTX, opening this winter at 27 School St., Boston; cloverfoodlab.com.