You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Magazine

The Food Issue

Clover Food Lab’s secret ingredient? Data. Lots of it.

How the Cambridge vegetarian fast-food phenom went from one truck to six — plus five restaurants, a deal with Whole Foods, and an imminent expansion to D.C.

YOU COULD BE forgiven for thinking Clover Food Lab had figured out its chickpea fritter sandwich by the spring of 2014. Five and a half years after Ayr Muir sold the first one from a truck parked across from MIT’s health center, customers had ordered more than 1 million of Clover’s take on falafel: a whole wheat pita spread with hummus, stuffed with fried chickpea balls and pickled vegetables, and drizzled in tahini sauce.

It was the $6 sandwich on which a menu, a philosophy, and an empire were being built, with six trucks, five brick-and-mortar restaurants (so far), a looming expansion to Washington, D.C., and a deal to carry branded items at Boston-area Whole Foods stores — all in service of Muir’s vision of selling locally sourced, largely organic vegetarian fast food from thousands of Clovers nationwide.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week