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Clover Food Lab Coming to DC, Thinking About H Street and the Newsom Building

by Prince Of Petworth February 21, 2014 at 11:30 am 49 Comments

1110 H Street, NE during H Street festival in 2012

Thanks to a reader for sending word:

“Looks like Clover is looking at the Newsom building. I live in the neighborhood and think this would be a great fit.”

On Clover’s website they have a post titled DC Real Estate with a photo of the once planned for Newsom building:

As you may know we’re trying to figure out DC real estate. It’s tricky. 1) We just don’t know it as well as we do Boston. 2) We’re going to be brand new. And there’s so much about what makes Clover special in Boston that has to do with our interaction with the community. We want to make sure we choose sites where we’ll be able to create that same type of deep experience in DC. So while prime office-area real estate is attractive from a sales standpoint, I’m nervous about our ability to build our brand properly in that market.

Based on advice from very experienced operators who know a lot more about DC than I do, we’re thinking it would make sense to open 2 sites: 1 that is in a more developing area, the other in an already developed area. That’s our rough thinking. We have a lot to do to figure out if this is the right direction or not.

A site became available on H street, near 10th. This is an area with an &Pizza and a Taylor Gourmet, 2 hot new chains in DC. I love the building, and there’s room to do some really creative stuff, and the trolley is just being added. Those are all exciting things. But when I shared this with a friend who knows DC really really well he said he thought it was much too gritty for us. Didn’t think it would be a good early location. DC-ers out there, what do you think?

For those not familiar with Clover, like me, they sound pretty awesome:

“Our food philosophy is driven by simplicity. I’d rather have you shocked by how delicious our turnip soup tastes than impress you with an exotic ingredient or fancy technique or flowery menu description.

We try to keep everything very simple, but very careful. If you eat with us for breakfast you know that we’re making the soup or salads in the morning and prepping for lunch. We don’t make ketchup. We don’t make Mayonnaise. We make just about everything else every day.

This is Fast Food. We’re obsessed with speed and constantly time ourselves. Our average serve times are around 3.5 minutes, which makes us a little slower than McDonald’s.

At Clover we:

– Have no freezers. In the entire company. Not one.
– Change our menu day-to-day to stay in sync with the best tasting seasonal ingredients.
– Cut food as close as we can to when you’re going to eat (e.g., tomatoes are cut when you order)
– Keep your money in your region. (40-85% of our ingredients are from the Northeast)
– Use an unheard of amount of organic ingredients (typically 30-60% depending on time of year)
– Don’t EVER use any preservatives, “natural flavors,” “flavor enhancers,” “artificial flavors”*
– Make food that will improve your health (no need to tell the kids, but that food is good for them)
– Allow you to see us making your food. We have no “back of house” anywhere in our company.
– 100% of what we hand you is compostable. OK, nothing to do with taste. But it’s the right thing to do.”

You can see Clover’s menus here and read a lot more background here.


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