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Clover to Keep All Cambridge Locations Open After Surviving Bankruptcy

The Harvard Square location is one of several Cambridge Clover stores. Clover CEO Julia Wrin Piper said all locations will stay open after a corporate restructuring.
The Harvard Square location is one of several Cambridge Clover stores. Clover CEO Julia Wrin Piper said all locations will stay open after a corporate restructuring. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Jack R. Trapanick, Crimson Staff Writer

All of Clover Food Lab’s locations will stay open following a corporate restructuring after the company declared bankruptcy in November, Clover CEO Julia Wrin Piper said Friday.

The locally sourced vegetarian fast food chain, which has multiple Cambridge locations — including one on Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square and another inside Harvard’s Science Center — struggled to adapt to the post-Covid-19 environment and the shift toward remote or part-remote work, Piper said in an interview with The Crimson.

In its November filing, the company also cited a drop in investment funding just as they were attempting to expand, which left them spread thin.

Piper said the company took advantage of Subchapter V, a relatively new addition to federal bankruptcy law, which offers businesses with lighter debt such as Clover more license to negotiate restructuring with their creditors.

Piper took over as CEO of the company last fall, replacing Ayr Muir, an MIT and Harvard Business School alum who founded the business as a food truck 16 years ago.

After going through the bankruptcy process, the chain emerged with 13 of its 15 former locations still running. “That’s almost unheard of — most businesses have to substantially scale down” when they declare bankruptcy, Piper said, listing amenable landlords and financial transparency as factors in their stability.

With bankruptcy safely in the rearview mirror, the company is maintaining its reliance on institutional catering and providing home meal boxes — which helped them survive the pandemic — to keep the business sustainable. They are looking to experiment with locating near more universities and medical institutions, which are both considered the Boston area’s primary anchor industries.

“Our customers are looking for vegetable-forward, delicious, healthy food to serve their families. And that’s something that we think is a really high unmet need in university areas and around hospitals,” she said.

Employees at the Harvard Square Clover said they originally faced some panic from customers after the bankruptcy was first publicized.

“People misinterpreted bankruptcy — liquidate everything, sell everything,” said Julia Felicione, an employee at the Harvard Square location.

“There were some locations that definitely had to be worried. Some did close down,” she said. “But we were able to reassure our customers because we learned very early on probably nothing’s going to happen here.”

Felicione and Evan Hines, another employee, said they were now confident in the company’s longevity.

“We started seeing news articles about ‘the fall of Clover’ — it wasn’t,” Hines said. “I don’t think that I’ve ever been more sure of the company’s future.”

—Staff writer Jack R. Trapanick can be reached at Follow him on X @jackrtrapanick.

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