Clover Is Finally Opening a Restaurant in the Back Bay This Fall
The meat-free mecca is headed for a busy block in Copley Square.
UPDATE, December 10: Welcome to Copley Square, Clover. The food lab has softly opened its 13th restaurant in the Back Bay, and is hosting a “pay what you want” lunch today from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Order up a Brussels sprout sandwich, a pour-over coffee, Impossible meatballs or whatever you please, and know that 100 percent of the proceeds on Tuesday, Dec. 10, go to the Stone Barns Growing Farmers Initiative to help train the next generation of farmers. Clover Back Bay officially opens on December 11.
Clover Food Lab is opening its 13th restaurant in Boston this fall, and it’s headed for an area of the city with an exceptionally sky-high concentration of fast-casual restaurants. Chickpea fritters, rosemary fries, and more meat-free fare from the beloved local brand is headed for 565 Boylston St. in Copley Square, mere steps from healthy fast-casual imports including Dig Inn, Sweetgreen, Cava, and Tender Greens. The address also puts it next door to Boston’s proposed Chick-Fil-A.
While it might seem like a competitive market, the Back Bay location—the original home of Globe Bar & Café and most recently, a short-lived outpost of the national chain Minigrow—was the selling point for Clover founder Ayr Muir. In fact, back when Clover still operated its mobile fleet, it was the first electric-powered food truck to set up shop on nearby Newbury Street. But the company was really holding out for the perfect brick-and-mortar opportunity in the neighborhood.
“We’ve known for a long time that the Back Bay would be an amazing location for us to open a restaurant, but we have to wait patiently for the right opportunity,” Muir said in an announcement. He claims that the company has fielded more than 1,200 requests to open in the neighborhood since 2010.
“We have been deliberate and careful in our expansion,” Muir added.
Clover certainly has a following. Muir, an MIT-trained engineer who’s obsessed with data-driven efficiency, calculates that 60 percent of Clover’s sales come from customers who eat there more than twice per week. Rather than specifically target plant-based eaters, the brand has adopted a mission to encourage meat lovers to occasionally go vegetarian. (Among other things, Muir’s chain was the first Boston restaurant group to carry Impossible brand plant-based meat substitute.) The result: iconic lunch options that appeal even to roast beef-and-lobster roll-loving Bostonians—such as the signature chickpea fritter pita, a fried blue oyster mushroom sandwich, and an eggy breakfast sandwich. Ron Shaich, a locally based industry mogul who founded Panera Bread and helped fuel the growth of local chains Tatte and Life Alive, has also invested in Clover’s success. And Clover is consistently part of national industry conversations around plant-based dining and fast-casual trends.
The Back Bay location spans 1,600 square feet, and will have 16 seats at a communal table, plus two standing areas with countertops. It will cater to all-day crowds in Copley with a pour-over coffee program and a full breakfast menu, plus made-to-order sandwiches, salads, rosemary fries and other sides, and house-made drinks; it will also offer farm-share pickups like other Clover locations. It will be open daily, from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and on Sundays from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Stay tuned for an opening date.
Clover, coming fall 2019 to 565 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston, cloverfoodlab.com.