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A well-known local chain of vegetarian fast-food restaurants is closing one of its locations.
Clover Food Lab will shutter its takeout-only spot on Harvard Street in Brookline Village on April 20.
“This is a restaurant we opened five years ago, and at that time we were exploring different ideas,” said owner Ayr Muir. “We didn’t know what Clover would be and thought it would be fun to try takeout only.”
Clover began in 2008 at MIT in Cambridge with one food truck, and quickly expanded into several trucks and 12 brick-and-mortar locations. The concept attracts vegans and meat eaters alike, with a creative menu that stresses organic ingredients and changes based on what’s available from local farmers.
Set in a former Papa Gino’s, the Brookline shop was the third Clover location and the only one driven by a to-go menu.
“It was profitable, but it makes more sense for us to focus on what we’re doing really well right now,” Muir said. “It didn’t fit into the broader strategy. The lease was up, and we decided not to renew it.”
This isn’t the first time Clover has reconfigured its path. It closed all of its food trucks in 2017 to focus on streamlining brick-and-mortar operations.
Opening another Brookline outlet isn’t high on Muir’s priority list, so locals will have to seek out their chickpea fritters and Impossible Burger dishes at another location, the next closest being the one in the nearby Longwood Medical Area. That restaurant has seating and a large area for its popular Community Supported Agriculture pickups, a program that allows locals to purchase seasonal bounty direct from farmers’ harvests.
Those who want takeout from Clover are still in luck. After four years of development by its tech team, the restaurant recently released an order-ahead app.
Muir said that the worst part about closing the Brookline location will be not seeing certain customers.
“There are customers we look forward to seeing every day. And we’re going to have to shut the door,” he said. “But you have to make these decisions with a bigger picture in mind. It’s the right thing to do, even if it’s a little painful.”