Clover Food Lab | Obsessed with Veggies, Creativity and Quality
Clover Food Lab has been purchasing Backyard Farms tomatoes since 2008 when they ran their business from a single food truck. Today, they have 11 Boston area restaurants (with plans for more) with a simple menu of creative, quick-serve vegetarian food.
The instant you walk into one of Clover Food Lab's 10 Boston area locations (+2 food trucks), you know you're someplace different. While most quick serve restaurants feature bold colors and images, Clover's logo is a simple black stencil on a white background.
The interior of each restuarant follows the black and white theme while the seating areas are a combination of wood and metal which gives you the feeling of being in a sterile, yet funky science lab. The spartan background also puts the focus squarely on the real stars of Clover Food Lab -- the food and the people who make it to order and serve it with pride.
Within seconds of your arrival, a Clover Guide like Shane (pictured above) greets you and asks how he can help you. The first thing you'll notice about Shane is the smile on his face. Clover employees are happy employees, and not just because they make more money than a typical fast food restaurant employee. They've completely bought into the concept of using fresh, natural food and exceptional customer service to improve the quality of their customers' lives.
And Clover is ALL about fresh, natural food. Everything on their menu (which changes daily at each location) is vegetarian but their dishes are so tasty, the vast majority of their customers eat meat. Clover doesn't preach a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle nor do they market their restaurants that way. They simply take the freshest vegetables they can find, apply creative seasoning/preparation techniques, and then combine them to flavorful, bordering on addictive effect.
On this particular day, we were at Clover to celebrate the launch of the Maine Tomato Sandwich (photo above). An entire Backyard Farms tomato on the vine is paired with flash fried seaweed harvested off the coast of Maine, drizzled with sriracha mayo and tucked into a fresh pita made with flour from Maine Grains located in nearby Skowhegan. It's Clover's take on a BLT with dulse flakes adding a satisfying, crunch that fools you into thinking you're eating bacon. This sandwich will only be available until the end of May so if you're in the Boston area, don't wait to try it!
Clover has been using Backyard Farms tomatoes in all of their salads and sandwiches since 2008, most notably in their amazing Egg Sandwich. Instead of the standard fried egg, Clover uses a six and a half minute boiled egg for less cholesterol and an altogether different breakfast experience.
Clover Food Lab is the brain child of its founder and President, Ayr Muir. Ayr graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in Materials Science and received his MBA from Harvard University. While working at a consulting firm, Ayr read a UN report about meat production's impact on the environment and found the inspiration to create a more sustainable fast food restuarant chain.
In addition to providing fresh, top-quality food, Ayr wanted to create great jobs where performance is rewarded and opportunity is available to anyone willing to work for it. Every new employee is welcomed on the company's web site and social media channels. The result is the kind of workplace where Mary (pictured below), who already works full-time at a Boston area hospital, chooses to spend her weekends working at Clover because she is so energized by her co-workers.
While it's great that Clover treats their employees well, you don't last long in the quick-service food industry without treating your customers like gold. Clover's friendly, highly-motivated staff does that day in and day out with a top-down commitment to quality unlike anything else we've seen. Lots of businesses talk about "transparency" in their operations. Clover puts their philosophy on their bags.
If you live, work or plan to visit the Boston area, we encourage you to try Clover Food Lab and experience their altogether different approach to fast food. Follow them on Instagram to see their latest creations, newest hires and most recently promoted supervisors and managers. We think you'll agree that if every business operated like Clover runs their restaurants, the world would be a better place.