How They Work: Clover Food Lab

Developing great company culture isn't all just fun and games. Here at Wistia, we've been working hard to create an environment that brings out the best in every member of our team. In order to keep improving our game, we've been visiting companies we respect to learn how they work and what makes their culture unique. We'll be sharing everything we learn though our favorite medium (video!) in an experiment we're calling How They Work.

This was an especially fun installment of How They Work for us because we've been big fans of Clover Food Lab for a while -- they even catered our holiday party! If you're not tempted by those butternut squash fritters, you might not be human. Even if you're not someone who works with food, Clover's an interesting case study -- they're building a different kind of food business, one whose business model feels much more like a tech company. In many ways, they leverage technology to return to the way things used to be.

Clover's food is all vegetarian, but their message isn't at all preachy, and their healthier take on fast food is appealing to all, ranging from the BBQ seitan, which feels a bit like a hippie-friendly McRib, to the chickpea fritter, which is essentially a falafel on crack. They don't use freezers at all, so you know everything they're serving up is completely fresh. They also keep their menu local and develop close relationships with farmers.

Because of their local and seasonal menu approach, they've devised a way to make their menu completely flexible, incorporating whiteboards and screens to accomodate quick changes. Their menu in the Boston area stays fairly consistent between locations, but as Clover expands, this will be an important feature. Clover doesn't want people to come for a certain sandwich, they want people to come because of Clover's unique approach to sandwiches. They're also huge advocates of testing items and tracking what people buy to make their menu the best it can be. Because there's a low cost to letting people try their product (much like with a tech product), they do so frequently, and often unsolicited -- they're in it for the long term, and they're okay with making some mistakes along the way. And something seems to be working -- they've grown from 10 to 140 employees in the past year.

Clover currently has five food trucks and two restaurant locations in the Boston area. We hope to see more of Clover popping up in our favorite neighborhoods soon! How about Davis Square? ;)

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